Zurich defends its subsidiary acting as agent for Enterprise
INSURANCE giant Zurich has defended the fact one of its subsidiaries was the agent here for bust Enterprise Insurance.
The Gibraltar insurer collapsed after it was said to be "hopelessly insolvent".
Zurich's subsidiary, Wrightway, marketed Enterprise policies here, which were sold through 300 brokers.
Around 14,000 drivers have been left in limbo after the insurer's collapse.
According to reports in Gibraltar, it is estimated that the motor insurance company's liabilities could exceed its assets by up to £18m (€21.5m).
"It is a huge deficiency," Chief Justice Anthony Dudley told the Gibraltar Supreme Court.
Gibraltar-regulated Enterprise Insurance is to be wound up after its regulator ordered it to cease business.
A Grant Thornton executive has been appointed as provisional liquidator
It operated here under the Wrightway brand, a company owned by Zurich.
A spokesman for Wrightway defended the fact it was the master agent for Enterprise Insurance in this country.
It said Enterprise Insurance "was an insurer of 10 years standing, licensed to operate in Ireland under applicable EU rules".
Wrightway said it confirmed to its parent, Zurich, that Enterprise met Wrightway's own criteria as an insurance provider and was licensed to operate in Ireland.
Enterprise Insurance operated across a number of European markets including France, Greece, Italy, Norway and the UK.
In a statement Wrightway said: "Wrightway Underwriting is disappointed at recent developments at Enterprise Insurance and the impact this is having on affected brokers and their policyholders."
Wrightway is funding the cost of replacement cover for those affected by the collapse of Enterprise.
It said 1,300 broker calls have been received since the Sunday, when the underwriter said it would pay for the replacement policies for the affected drivers.
"Wrightway is committed to continuing to support its brokers in their dealings with policyholders," the spokesman added.
The collapse of Enterprise Insurance prompted employers' body Ibec to issue a report stating that excessive personal injury awards are feeding a culture of litigation.
Ibec called for measures to rein in what it said was the rising cost of personal injury claims, in what will be seen as an attack on the judiciary.
Insurers have largely blamed the rising cost of injury awards in courts for fact that the average motor premium shot up by almost 40pc last year.
Ibec head of infrastructure Neil Walker said that across a rage of minor injuries, compensation levels in this country were typically double those in the UK.
"Irish court judgments are often far higher than the guidelines," Dr Walker said, following the publication of an Ibec report on the impact of claims on businesses.