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Monday 15 July 2019

Charlie Weston: 'High time we stopped passing the buck and clamped down on insurance fraudsters'

'The insurance industry estimates that fraud costs around €200m a year.' (Stock photo)
'The insurance industry estimates that fraud costs around €200m a year.' (Stock photo)
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

The fraudsters will be delighted. The decision not to set up a dedicated Garda insurance fraud unit will mean the dodgy claims can continue and the easy money will keep flowing for the claimsters.

That is the conclusion that is hard to escape after plans for insurers to fund a new Garda unit to tackle claims fraud were knocked on the head by the Garda Commissioner and the minister responsible for insurance reform. Minister of State Michael D'Arcy said that funding of a Garda insurance fraud unit by the insurance industry "won't be happening".

He said he met Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to discuss the issue and he agreed with the Commissioner, who was not prepared to accept the Garda Siochana being funded from outside the Exchequer.

This led to the Government being accused by the Alliance for Insurance Reform of engaging in a "perpetual round of bickering and pass the parcel", instead of progressing key insurance reforms.

The chancers have been effectively given the all-clear to continue their chicanery by the decision not to have a dedicated unit within the Garda to pursue them.

And remember, there is a significant amount of fraud permeating the motor claims scenario, according to former High Court president Nicholas Kearns

The insurance industry estimates that fraud costs around €200m a year. But the former High Court president said the true figure was a multiple of this, as that figure only represented the levels of fraud that were detected. And it did not account for exaggerated claims.

He said settlements for claims were large in this country, which encouraged fake claims; there is very little chance of detection for those making false claims; and few fraudsters were ever prosecuted for perjury. Mr Kearns said the chances of a fraudster being charged with perjury were "infinitesimal".

And remember, too, that most compensated claims for whiplash are "frankly spurious", according to the professional body for general practice training.

But there is too much money to be made by claimsters, and their enablers, for any serious efforts to be made to clamp down on false and exaggerated claims.

A small number of lawyers are besmirching their profession by representing professional claimants. Even when these cases are thrown out of court, there seems to be no questions asked of the lawyers for their failure to properly vet the claims being made.

Honest drivers deeply resent having to pay for dodgy claims. It is high time we got serious about tackling the menace.

Sunday Indo Business

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