Homeowners in Westmeath who have had any work done on their gas fires or boilers by unregistered fitters since their last renewal have been asked to check if their insurers will still honour future claims.
This ame to light this week after the Consumer Association of Ireland (CAI ) asked insurance companies across Ireland to clarify if they will pay out on claims where householders have used unregistered fitters.
“The CAI is calling for companies to make this clear so householders can avoid a situation similar to the one which saw owners of houses with pyrite damage find themselves not covered by insurance,” said CEO of the Consumer Association of Ireland, Dermott Jewell.
“Apart from the serious risk to life and limb, householders could find themselves financially exposed if they use unregistered installers. We are worried that where a claim involves damage caused by faulty gas equipment, the insurance company will look for evidence that previous servicing work was done by a registered installer. If the householder cannot provide this evidence, we fear the insurance companies just won’t pay,” he warned.
Though no figures for a county-by-county breakdown have yet been made public, the CAI believes up to 10,000 homes nationwide may be in jeopardy.
“It’s not to say they [gas fires and boilers] have been installed incorrectly, it’s just they’re outside the system,” explained Mr Jewell.
“Struggling homeowners understandably opt for the cheaper black market option when it comes to these works. This of course means thousands of householders have insurance policies that are potentially null and void,” he said.
At the moment the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport Energy and Communications is looking into this issue, and the CAI want the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER ) to appear to give a full account of the state of the industry that is potentially exposing ordinary householders to grave risks and dangers.
The Commission for Energy Regulation’s own figures show safety disconnections of customer installations were up by 133 per cent in 2011 alone.