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Sunday 22 July 2018

Insurance firms accused of failing to do enough to tackle fraudulent claims

Insurers say the vast majority of claims are honest, but where there are fraudulent claims they are tackled to prevent the cost being passed on to customers. Stock photo
Insurers say the vast majority of claims are honest, but where there are fraudulent claims they are tackled to prevent the cost being passed on to customers. Stock photo
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Sometimes it seems that insurance companies are their own worst enemies. They stand accused of failing to share data on claims with State bodies attempting to reform the sector. Just as seriously, they have also been charged with venting a lot about fraudulent claims, but failing to seriously tackle the problem.

Insurance companies deny they are failing to share data with State bodies on claims and settlements. This data is vital so we can test arguments by the industry that the hiking of premiums by an average of 70pc over a three-year period was justified because the sector is facing more claims.

However, the latest report from the Government's Working Group on the Cost of Insurance states that representative group, Insurance Ireland, said it was not possible to provide data on the income and spending of insurers and claims per year for the period 2011 to 2016.

"Insurance Ireland informed the working group that it would not be possible to provide data in such a form (ie accident year) within the time-frame of the working group's schedule," the report states.

A spokesperson for Insurance Ireland insisted the sector has opened its books on five occasions in the last two years to show claims trends and to tackle the costs policyholders ultimately pay for.

This includes the extensive data sent to the Personal Injuries Commission to facilitate the benchmarking of Irish awards to those in other countries, it said.

When it comes to tackling fraud, the working group report states one company only has prioritised taking on insurance chancers. "The working group is of the view that there is undoubtedly additional scope for other companies to also further prioritise tackling fraud," the report states.

Not so, say insurers.

They say the vast majority of claims are honest, but where there are fraudulent claims they are tackled to prevent the cost being passed on to customers. Insurance Ireland added that an independent survey undertaken last year of insurers' activity in fighting fraud confirmed that the rate of identification of potentially fraudulent claims had increased for 79pc of those surveyed compared to 69pc in the previous year.

Insurers also came in for strong criticism particularly for settling claims without telling the policyholder. Policyholders should be notified of claims against, according to the report.

All told, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the insurance industry has a lot more to do to convince us it is doing what it can to calm the insurance premium crisis.

Sunday Indo Business

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