Wednesday 22 November 2017

Volunteer left fuming after car insurance hiked by 20pc because he's a First Responder

Aviva said the higher premium is due to "increased driving risk"

Paramedics carrying patient on stretcher outdoors
Paramedics carrying patient on stretcher outdoors
Daire Courtney

Daire Courtney

A volunteer has claimed his car insurance was raised by 20pc because of his role as a First Responder.

Aidan Cunningham, a volunteer First Responder in Donegal, already had his Aviva insurance raised by 20pc and now faces a further 20pc rise since he informed the insurance company of his role.

First Responders in Aidan’s group work one 24-hour shift per month. They get a call when someone has a serious illness and the nearest hospital or ambulance is far away; this service is very important in rural areas.

“We are all trained in CPR and in how to use the defibrillator. We get regular training to update our skills,” Aidan told Liveline on RTÉ Radio One this afternoon.

“If someone is in cardiac arrest, it’s very important that they get help quickly – the success of treatment really goes down after ten minutes. My local hospital is 30 kilometres away so it can take 30 minutes for an ambulance to get to my area.”

The car insurers may have hiked prices because they believe the volunteers would rush on the roads, but Aidan is worried it will push people out of the programme.

“I’m happy to pay it because I want to be a First Responder, but a lot of people are younger than me and would have higher premiums than me. Not everyone is able to pay it,” he told Liveline.

“My fear is that it will cause a crumbling of the first responder network around the country.”

The group get some funding from the state for their training, but everything else they need comes from local fundraising or their own pockets. They get no money for expenses.

When asked to comment on the situation, the insurer said: “Aviva currently applies a loading of 20% to motor policies taken out by customers who are Community First Responder (CFR) members.

"This loading is to cover the increased driving risk associated with this work, which is over and above the risk associated with the regular domestic/social use of a car. The National Ambulance Service (NAS) requires all CFR group members to inform their Motor Insurance provider of their work for CFR and to get written confirmation that they have done so.

"Aviva fully acknowledges the important role played by CFRs across the country and our priority is to work with CFR Ireland to identify a solution that will mitigate against the additional risk associated with the driving they do as part of their work. This includes the recommendation that CFR volunteers participate in an advanced driving course which can be provided by a number of third party trainers.

"Where a Community First Responder group member has completed an advance driver training course, recognized by Aviva, we remove the requirement for the additional premium and will allow a further discount (currently 20%) to that individual’s insurance premium.”

"Advanced driving courses can be as much as €100 for a two-hour course, and without central funding it falls on the groups to self-fund or fundraise locally."

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