POLAND: Insurers respond to Financial Ombudsman's call for solutions in relation to COVID-19

2 April 2020 — Daniela GHETU
In a letter issued on March 25th, PIU - the Polish Chamber of Insurance responded to the Financial Ombudsman's proposal of solutions aimed at supporting policyholders. In PIU's opinion, any hasty actions that directly affect the solvency of companies, in the event of a long and deep crisis, will harm the interests of victims and the stability of the insurance market.

Largely, here are the main suggestions made by the Polish Financial Ombudsman, together with the PIU comments:


A.

Financial Ombudsman: Implementing procedures allowing to defer payment of insurance premiums for already ongoing and automatically renewed insurance contracts (especially in case of motor third party liability insurance)

PIU comments - allowing deferred premium payments on a large scale may put the insurers' financial stability under threat; especially for the MTPL line, this is potentially depriving those injured in road accidents of the possibility of being reimbursed for their losses;


B.

Financial Ombudsman: the Insurance Guarantee Fund should consider suspending sanctions (penalty fees) for the failure to conclude compulsory motor third party liability contract

PIU comments - this might lead to a significant increase in the number of uninsured card on the Polish roads and expose their owners to the risk of having to pay sums that they really can't afford in case of causing a road accident


C.

Financial Ombudsman: as significant assets are "frozen" in various types of life insurance contracts with an investment character and some of these contracts involve high surrender fees in case of early termination, the solution should be the possibility of withdrawing funds from this type of contract without surrender fees or other

PIU comments - that would mean to encourage insureds to terminate life insurance contracts (with an investment component) right at the moment when the valuation of financial instruments related to the situation on capital markets, is very low, thus loosing a significant part of the savings. Such loss should be accepted only as a final choice


D.

Financial Ombudsman: In case of travel insurance, even if the T&C of the contract excludes epidemics, insurance should cover possible medical costs or the costs of repatriation to Poland

PIU has stressed out that Polish insurers have already provided assistance to victims, going beyond the conditions and standards described in insurance contracts in each case of disaster, natural disaster or any other particularly severe event. The current Coronavirus crisis is not different: on the one hand, the industry has immediately implemented remote services, which allows claims settlement and payment of benefits in a timely and safe manner; on the other hand, insurers are actively contributing with funds to purchase equipment and equipment necessary to fight the epidemic.

In adopting measures that may affect the financial stability of the market, PIU works in consultation with the Polish Financial Supervision Authority and insurance companies. All steps taken must meet three basic assumptions:
  • taking into account the specific financial situation of the insured
  • welfare and safety of victims
  • insurance market stability.
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