Monday 21 October 2019

Customers have died as a result of fake crashes staged to make insurance claims - Aviva

Aviva CEO Mark Wilson Photo: PA
Aviva CEO Mark Wilson Photo: PA
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

The global head of Aviva said customers have died as a result of fake crashes staged to make insurance claims.

On a visit to Dublin this week, New Zealander Mark Wilson said whiplash fraud here is a "national disgrace". Aviva's Irish managers have been given unlimited budgets to fight suspected fraudulent claims in court, he said.

Since taking over as the head of Aviva four years ago he has led a major campaign against insurance fraud, he said.

"I went to the team and said 'You have no limit on your budget, take every case you think is fraud to protect our consumers'," he said.

"What we said was we don't care about the cost - whatever cost, take it. Destroy the fraudsters and the crooked lawyers who back them," he said.

"I want to be ruthless on fraud and pay out genuine claims - that's the point.

"In the UK and here you have criminal elements setting up 'crash for cash'. And we have had some of our customers killed in cash for crash.

"It is a national scandal, it is bad for Ireland and it is terrible for the consumer, because you know what, we [Aviva] don't pay for it, the consumer pays for it."

Aviva is lobbying for legislative changes that would reduce the size of payouts for whiplash and other claims. If successful, he said it will help bring down motor insurance cost.

However, he said motoring costs here have had to rise after becoming uneconomical.

"This market for a long time has had irrational behaviour," he said, in a reference to competition that drove down prices but damaged insurers' financial health. He said the Central Bank was right to step in.

"In a post-Brexit world, Ireland needs to be seen as safe and secure, and you cannot be seen as safe and secure if your insurance companies keep on getting into trouble," he said.

UK-based Aviva is Ireland's biggest insurer. The Irish business, employing more than 1,000 staff, currently operates as a branch of the UK unit - meaning it is regulated in the UK and "passports" into Ireland as part of the European Single Market.

Following Britain's vote in June to exit the EU, Aviva has begun a process for the Irish business to be regulated as a stand-alone Aviva subsidiary by the Central Bank of Ireland, he said.

Irish regulators have been supportive and the change won't result in any disruptions, he said.

Irish Independent

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