Sunday 23 October 2016

Setanta clients still waiting for assistance

Inside Track

Jonathan Hehir

Published 24/05/2015 | 02:30

Jonathan Hehir
Jonathan Hehir

The one-year "anniversary" of the fall of Maltese-regulated, Irish-operated Setanta Insurance has been and gone - and still there are unanswered questions and, more importantly, unpaid claims.

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The Motor Insurance Bureau and the Insurance Compensation Fund are taking the issue of who pays to the courts, with no payments being made until this is sorted out - which could drag on for years. Affected claimants and policy-holders are anxiously awaiting the outcome of this High Court legal battle.

In the midst of the current impasse, van drivers and other affected claimants are out of pocket and full of worry as to how this is going to play out -if it ever actually gets resolved.

The Setanta issue primarily affects Irish van drivers. Most van drivers are self-employed - a group which just happens to be almost at the bottom of the ladder when it comes to political representation. So while it's disgraceful, it is no surprise that remedial action is lacking.

We suspect that very few decision-makers in the Department of Finance, the Motor Insurance Bureau, Insurance Ireland, or the Insurance Compensation Fund drive a van, which may account for the lack of action by this group in reaching a swift and efficient resolution for those involved.

The question of "who pays" goes on and on - but a more reasonable position would have been for the Government to pay the claims, particularly those that could force van drivers out of a job, and then work out which group or fund should pay them back.

We recently conducted a survey to ascertain who consumers believe should foot the bill in the event of an insurance company going belly-up. We found that the majority (46pc) of respondents believe that the government should pay for any outstanding claims if a motor insurer goes bust.

Just 2pc of those surveyed believed that the person who was hit or injured should cover the cost, which is in stark contrast to the current situation where these people have been forced to pay for their own repairs or carry these losses.

While everyone is aware of the myriad legal considerations and complexities that exist around the liquidation of a company, particularly when it's regulated in a different country, it is the end-users, Setanta Insurance customers, who have essentially been cast adrift.

It should be remembered that when you're involved in a car crash, and assuming that the accident was your fault, the other party can claim the full cost of their financial loss against you which could amount to tens of thousands - or even millions of euro. Having insurance indemnifies you so this liability transfers to the insurance company.

For Setanta customers, that liability currently remains with them - which means that they are solely liable for any payout.

Affected motorists and others caught in the situation are limited in what they can do.

In practical terms, they should retain receipts for any repairs they've paid for or any expenses incurred - such as renting an alternative van while theirs sits in a garage awaiting funds to repair it.

The Government is likely to feel the wrath of van drivers in the upcoming election if it continues to stand idly by in this compulsory insurance mess.

Jonathan Hehir is the managing director of

Sunday Indo Business

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