Sunday 11 December 2016

'I just got on with it and now use a pencil to fill in my eyebrow' - Bogus insurance claims deterring people with genuine injuries

Published 07/09/2016 | 16:29

Bogus insurance claims are deterring people with genuine injuries Stock photo: CandyBox Images
Bogus insurance claims are deterring people with genuine injuries Stock photo: CandyBox Images

A hotel worker has told how she hasn't made insurance claims for legitimate injuries because of bogus claims made by others.

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The senior employee, who has asked not to be named, told Independent.ie that she has suffered a series of accidents in her workplace.

However she has resisted suing for damages because of how it might be viewed by others.

Describing her most recent injury the worker said: “The gas grill was faulty and it shot gas up into my face, singeing my eyebrows and eyelashes and burning my cheeks. I didn’t log the claim; I just got on with it and now use a pencil to fill in my eyebrows."

It wasn't the first time she injured herself at work and could have made a claim, but decided not to.

She also fractured her arm after slipping on an oily surface in the kitchen and has suffered prolonged back pain due to the nature of her work - something which fellow employees have claimed for, but she hasn’t.

“I have seen people say they hurt their back and then they come in trying to claim, but half the time there is nothing wrong with them. I wouldn’t like claiming for this, that and the other. My mentality is that it comes back and hits you some other way, or people will have a negative view of you,” she said.

Sinead Carroll, a solicitor with Cantillons Solicitors in Cork, recently published a blog post entitled ‘Ireland’s apparent compo culture – why is the victim always to blame?’

Sinead said she has been lucky in that all her personal injury clients have been genuine, but laments how some of them almost feel guilty for that. “I have people who come in to my office and even though they are seriously injured, they would say ‘I’m not the type of person to do this'.

“That phrase always annoys me because I think there is no type of person that does it; this isn’t a thing you need to be ashamed of. First of all, every single one of us is paying money every year for insurance. That’s why you’re paying for it, so you can have the peace of mind because if god forbid something happens, which it easily can, well at least it will be dealt with.”

That is supposed to be the point of insurance, but it doesn’t always serve its purpose.

One student, who was recently involved in a car crash, revealed that she had her insurance quoted at a €450 hike prior to the accident.

She decided not to pursue a claim. “I, and many people I know, would never claim for smaller things. My current car had the bejesus knocked out of it.

"The person who did it has been caught, admitted it etc. But I refuse to claim the damages on my insurance because I'll lose my no claims bonus and then I won't be able to afford to insure my car.”

Irish people dutifully pay motor premiums every year because we are compelled to do so by law, but few reap any benefits from it. Many people choose to bear the costs of having their cars fixed as it is cheaper than claiming off the insurance company.

All the while fraudulent claimers take insurance companies to the cleaners and are part of the array of reasons why premiums have shot up.

In February of this year, a 51-year-old former insurance consultant was jailed for his part in staging six car crashes amounting to more than €200,000 in claims.

When handing down a three year sentence to the consultant, Judge Sean O’ Donnabháin said: “The amount lost to the insurance companies is quite significant and it is unlikely the monies will ever be repaid. Unfortunately, the people who pay are the innocent public.”

According to Aviva Insurance’s Chartered Accountant, John Farrell, fraudulent claims cost the motor insurance industry in Ireland circa €100m per annum, working out at €50 per policy.

In the UK they currently have 16,000 whiplash claims under investigation – equivalent to 44 claims per day.

Insurance Ireland released statistics earlier this year stating 80% of all motor injury claims in Ireland are for whiplash, in comparison to just 3% in France.

An owner of a major haulage company in Ireland describes one claim against his company which he believes to be fraudulent. “Personal injuries are coming on the scene a lot. One recently was a lorry driver was passing by a stopped vehicle, and the back of the trailer hit the wing mirror and the mirror came off. A third party was claiming personal injury for whiplash. It’s very hard to believe there was a personal injury in that case.”

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