Insurance

8.1 Insurance is another area in which people with disabilities are disadvantaged and discriminated against. In particular, drivers with disabilities find it extremely difficult to get motor insurance, even when they have a long number of years with no claims bonuses.

8.2 Insurance companies claim that they do not discriminate against drivers with disabilities. Where drivers do get insurance, however, it appears to be common practice among insurance companies to apply extra loading to them. We have found no proof, actuarial or otherwise, that drivers with disabilities are in general associated with greater risks.

8.3 The Ombudsman's office should investigate, and publish its report, before the end of July, 1997 on any loading by insurance companies of drivers with disabilities. Powers should be given to the Ombudsman's office to examine companies' actuarial figures and records.

8.4 Legislation should be introduced by the Department of Enterprise and Employment to prevent insurance companies from refusing quotations to drivers with disabilities.

8.5 Although the greatest cause of concern related to motor insurance, there were also complaints about loadings on life insurance policies as well as difficulties in obtaining permanent health insurance cover, a product supplied by the life insurance market. Also of concern was the failure of the VHI to provide certain facilities.

8.6 In addition, there are problems with people with disabilities being refused entry into institutions or public places because they were seen as an "insurance risk". In one case, refusal was to third level education. The inability of employers to obtain affordable insurance for employees is also a problem.

Recommendations

8.7 To address these problems, the Commission recommends that the Department of Equality and Law Reform should introduce anti-discrimination legislation to ensure the following:

  1. Any insurer may not discriminate against any person or group of people with a disability on the basis of their disability, when quoting for or issuing insurance cover, provided, however, that cover for specific disabilities and diseases may be excluded or provided subject to a higher charge, and benefits with respect to specific disabilities and diseases may be limited in amount, if the party providing insurance cover can establish the permissibility of such an exclusion, higher charge, or limitation pursuant to the requirements at (b) of this section.
  2. Any insurer may not discriminate against any individual, company or body when quoting for or issuing insurance cover for any event involving people with disabilities, provided, however, that cover may be excluded or provided subject to a higher charge, if the party providing insurance cover can establish the permissibility of such an exclusion, higher charge, or limitation pursuant to the requirements at (b) of this section.
  3. Any insurer may not discriminate against any individual, company or body when quoting for or issuing motor insurance, provided, however, that cover for specific disabilities and diseases may be excluded or provided subject to a higher charge, and benefits with respect to specific disabilities and diseases may be limited in amount, if the party providing insurance cover can establish the permissibility of such an exclusion, higher charge, or limitation pursuant to the requirements at (b) of this section.

    (b) For purposes of establishing the permissibility of any exclusion or limitation, the party providing insurance must establish by clear and convincing evidence that the exclusion, higher charge, or limitation: (1) is not based on stereotype or prejudice; (2) is supported by sound and current actuarial data; and (3) is necessary to the realisation of a fair and reasonable rate of return on investment by the party providing insurance.

8.8 In the above recommendation the following definitions should apply: Insurer: Any person or body providing insurance cover whether in the business of insurance or otherwise.

Insurance Cover: Insurance cover shall be deemed to include both insurance cover and any benefit or payment arrangements which constitute the practical equivalent thereof.

Disability: Disability shall be deemed to include a person's actual disability, history of disability, perceived disability and association with a person who has an actual disability, has a history of disability or is perceived to have a disability.

Discrimination: Discrimination shall include, without limitation, any refusal to deal on the same basis as the person providing insurance ordinarily and customarily deals with those seeking to obtain insurance cover; the imposition of any application conditions or requirements in excess of those that the person providing insurance ordinarily and customarily imposes on those seeking to obtain insurance cover; the charging of premiums in an amount exceeding that which the person providing insurance/benefits less than those ordinarily and customarily provided pursuant to cover of that kind and type.