Tuesday 23 January 2018

TDs to call regulator for second grilling on insurance

Cyril Roux of the Central Bank. Photo: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland
Cyril Roux of the Central Bank. Photo: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Charlie Weston Personal Finance Editor

Central Bank deputy governor Cyril Roux faces a second grilling from TDs and senators following spikey exchanges earlier this week.

Mr Roux raised the hackles of the politicians when he appeared before an Oireachtas committee to discuss motor insurance hikes.

He was accused of failing to protect consumers and not answering questions, and was told that the Central Bank took too long to spot problems with insurance companies.

Now the chairman of the Joint Committee on Finance and Public Expenditure, John McGuinness, has said Mr Roux will be called back before the politicians to clarify some of his answers.

At one stage in this week's committee hearing, Mr Roux was asked if he was defending insurance companies or the consumer.

Mr Roux said: "I am not defending consumers."

This prompted Mr McGuinness to respond: "That's for sure."

Officials from the Central Bank later insisted Mr Roux had made a slip of the tongue and had not meant that he does not act to protect consumers.

Mr Roux also clashed with Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty, who asked him five times when the Central Bank first became aware of financial problems in the insurance sector.

Now Mr McGuinness said the committee intends to invite Mr Roux back to answer more questions.

"When we have a report complete to a draft stage we will ask the Central Bank back to clarify a number of areas," the Carlow Kilkenny Fianna Fáil TD said.

The committee will also recall representatives from Insurance Ireland.

Asked what needs to be clarified, Mr McGuinness said: "We need to challenge the Central Bank in relation to the consumer protection aspect of its role."

The committee chairman said there was an issue around the Central Bank accepting figures given to it by insurers.

"Who is looking after the rights of consumers and taking on the industry to bring down the cost of insurance? Who is questioning the figures given to the Central Bank by insurers?"

Premiums have shot up by 70pc in the past three years, as insurers have been accused of under-pricing motor policies and of not putting aside sufficient reserves to meet claims.

Meanwhile, the Central Bank will not appeal against a ruling that minutes of a historic meetings of the bank's board should be released.

Earlier this year, the Office of the Information Commissioner found the Central Bank was wrong in its interpretation of the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act, which had seen it refuse access to some records.

Irish Independent

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