Charlie Weston: Fake crash scammers now face major road block
THE insurance fraudsters who are robbing honest policyholders blind have been put on notice that their days are numbered. A new Garda unit specialising in investigating them is about to get up and running.
High award levels in this country, allied to the fact that there are no consequences for false claims, have made insurance fraud a booming cottage industry.
Cases aplenty are being thrown out of court, but there seldom seems to be any downside for these dodgy claimants other than an award of costs against them, which they are unlikely to pay. Just last week a Dublin taxi driver, who has made eight personal injury claims in as many years but failed to disclose most of them to insurers, had his latest claim thrown out.
Judge Terence O’Sullivan dismissed the claim of Chengduo Zhu of Dublin in the Circuit Civil Court and made an order against him for the legal costs. But it is debatable if the taxi driver will face prosecution for being less than honest.
Also in the past few days, a former model, and wife of a man described in court as a notorious criminal, was told by a judge she was part of a contrived accident which led to claims by herself and three of her sisters-in-law for damages totalling €240,000.
The judge said the accident had been set up, contrived and deliberately brought about by the claimant and the driver of the car behind.
Julieanne Joyce (23) and her three in-laws were ordered to pay legal costs which will total close to €100,000.
Again, there is a major doubt that there will be any prosecution of the claimant for making a false claim.
But that might be about to change and we may finally get to grips with the problem now that insurers are to fund a dedicated Garda insurance fraud unit.
Fraudsters, and their lawyers, will have to think hard in future before they pursue a spurious claim.
And insurers may be less likely to settle cases they feel are questionable but fear losing an expensive court case if fighting them.
Some 70pc of personal injury claims never make it to court because most insurers settle before they get there.
The news that insurance firms are now prepared to pony up €1m a year to fund a new unit within the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau will be cheered by the honest drivers.
It is about time that the fraudsters hit a road block.