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51 jobs to go as Combined Insurance to stop all sales activity

Combined Insurance, which suspended its Irish sales last month on foot of a probe into its operations, has confirmed that it will now terminate such sales on a permanent basis and lay off 51 of its 64 employees here.

The specialist insurer, which offered hospital benefit, sickness income plans and accidental disability plans, has been the subject of an investigation by the Financial Regulator since last year.

The probe, into Combined Insurance's "sales and governance practices" came on foot of complaints made to the Financial Ombudsman regarding the firm.

In one case, the family of a 77-year-old farmer claimed he had been sold nine unnecessary policies over 15 years and had eventually put up barbed wire to keep out Combined's sales agents. The company took in about €40m in premiums in 2009.

The decision to end door-to-door sales of its policies will also result in the about 60 self-employed agents with the firm having to seek alternative work.

In a statement issued yesterday, Combined Insurance said that the exact number of redundancies among its directly employed staff won't be determined until the end of a consultation process.

It added that it maintains a strong financial position and will continue to serve its existing policyholder base, including ongoing payment of valid claims.

Formerly part of Aon, Combined Insurance is now owned by Ace Group, a US-listed firm headquartered in Switzerland.

Irish Independent