Fund may not pay out in claims against Setanta motorists
Finance Minister Michael Noonan has warned that drivers making a claim against a driver who had a policy with collapsed Setanta may not be able to access a fund set up by insurance companies.
The fund was put in place to pay out when those causing an accident have no cover.
Instead, drivers may now have to apply to a separate High Court-run fund, the minister admitted in the Dail.
And it could mean that the 2pc levy imposed on all motor and home insurance policies to fund the High Court-administered Insurance Compensation Fund will be in place for longer.
Mr Noonan told the Dail in April that those with a third-party claim against someone insured with Setanta would have their claim dealt with by the Motor Insurance Bureau of Ireland (MIBI).
This is the body that was set up by insurers to pay out when those causing an accident have no insurance. But Mr Noonan has now admitted to Fianna Fail's Michael McGrath that the there is some doubt whether the MIBI will be able to cover all third-party claims made against Setanta policies.
The Dublin-based, but Malta regulated, insurer went bust in April, leaving 75,000 drivers without insurance cover and raising issues about who will pay first-party and third party claims.
The minister has now effectively corrected an earlier reply to Mr McGrath in the Dail when it was stated that MIBI would cover Setanta-related claims.
Mr Noonan said his original statements to the Dail had been accurate, based on conversations between officials in the Department of Finance and the MIBI.
But MIBI has since got legal advice on their liabilities in Setanta insurance cases.
The Dail record has now been changed to say: "We are endeavouring to clarify the position on a number of matters relating to policyholders' claims for compensation, including the role of MIBI in this regard."
"It is unacceptable that three months on from the collapse of Setanta we are still not in possession of all the relevant facts," Mr McGrath said.
"The minister needs to urgently clarify what role the MIBI has in relation to third-party claims.
"Telling people they can take a High Court action is simply not good enough."
MIBI is funded by the industry, but this cost is passed on to consumers and adds around €31 to the cost of every motor policy.
The minister added that if, for legal reasons, MIBI was not in a position to accept a claim, these third-party claims would be considered by the High Court-administered Insurance Compensation Fund (ICF).
The ICF was set up to cover the expected cost of €1.65bn in meeting claims of Quinn Insurance policyholders.