Thousands hit by insurance firm's direct debit glitch
THOUSANDS of home and motor insurance customers of Axa have missed payments after the company failed to collect direct debits.
The insurer has admitted the mistake has now happened twice and is blaming their bank for the error.
They have claimed that their bank has yet to get their systems set up to deal with changes to direct debit payments from the new EU-wide single euro payments area (Sepa) initiative.
This aims to have similar systems in place for making payments out of banks across Europe.
Some 12,000 customers were affected in the Republic this time, and 45,000 customers in the North.
And Aviva has admitted that 6,000 health insurance customers were hit with a payments mess-up.
However the firm has confirmed it will refund any "direct debit failure" charges imposed by banks on customers.
A similar number of householders who tried to pay their property tax have also been hit with payment errors.
The latest revelations come after this newspaper uncovered last week that 30,000 Eircom customers ended up in arrears on their telecoms bills after a payments blunder at the group.
Now Axa Insurance has been forced to write to thousands of its customers after it was unable to collect monthly premiums from their bank accounts.
In some cases, customers have not had money taken from their bank accounts to pay home and motor premiums for three months.
However, Axa insisted that policy cover has not been affected in any way.
The insurer blamed the banks, claiming that they have yet to get their systems set up to deal with changes to direct debit payments from the new EU-wide single euro payments area (Sepa) initiative. This aims to have similar systems in place for making payments out of banks across Europe.
A spokeswoman for Axa confirmed that 10,000 customers were affected by the same blunder at the start of the year. It is not known if the 12,000 affected this time includes the 10,000 originally affected.
The insurer, which operates on both sides of the Border, said a further 45,000 customers in the North were affected.
"Axa apologises for any inconvenience that has been caused to our customers," the spokeswoman said.
The insurer said it had contacted the relevant customers and will now seek to again collect premiums seven days after it failed.