Dáil Éireann - Volume 409 - 19 June, 1991

Written Answers. - Insurance Companies.

49. Mr. Sheehan asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he has satisfied himself that the calculations which have been issued by the underwriters to a policy holder for the life assurance policy (details supplied) are correct; whether in view of the fact he does not have any role to play in the day to day operation of insurance companies, these companies are allowed to operate without any form of supervision; if there [2414] is any licensing and policing body to protect the interests of people who take out life assurance policies; and if he has satisfied himself that all insurance brokers are qualified to provide advice to people who are investing their money with them; and if he will outline the means available to people to inquire as to whether a particular insurance broker is qualified to provide this financial advice.

Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. O'Malley): I have no role in relation to the yield to individual policy holders from individual life assurance policies. A policy holder is, of course, entitled to receive from the insurer a copy of the terms of such policy, which document contains the terms of contract drawn up between the insurer and the insured. It is a matter for the policy holder to acquaint himself with the terms of the policy and to seek clarification from the insurer where required.

As the insurance supervisory authority my statutory role in relation to life assurers is to ensure that such assurers meet their statutory solvency and reserve requirements. The objective of this role is to ensure that when life assurance policies mature there is money available to meet the obligations undertaken.

Part IV of the Insurance Act, 1989, which came into force on 1 October 1989, provides for regulation of insurance intermediaries. Under the 1989 Act, insurance intermediaries are required, among other things, to issue receipts to their clients, maintain separate bank accounts for clients' moneys and, in certain circumstances, to be bonded in respect of such moneys. In the context of this regulation the insurance industry themselves have adopted a code of conduct to which all insurance intermediaries are required to adhere in their dealings with insurance proposers and which requires them to identify their status as agent, tied agent or broker.

Furthermore, it is open to proposers of life insurance to make inquiries as to the status of any insurance intermediary from the representative body of insurance brokers recognised under the Act, i.e. [2415] the Irish Brokers Association, or by means of an inspection of a register of insurance intermediaries which all insurers are required to maintain, in respect of intermediaries to whom they have granted agency appointments and to make available for public inspection at their offices under section 50 of the 1989 Insurance Act.

I would add that the Irish Insurance Federation have adopted a code on advertising and illustrations of yields on life assurance policies. Complaints regarding breaches of this code may be addressed to the Federation at Russell House, Russell Court, St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2.