Insurance fraud unit welcomed 'but more is needed'
Groups campaigning for insurance reform have welcomed plans for a new Garda unit specialising in insurance fraud.
But the Insurance Reform Alliance, Isme and the body that represents small shops said more needed to be done to tackle fake claims.
Insurance companies have agreed to fund the establishment of a new Garda insurance fraud unit.
The Insurance Reform Alliance said the setting-up of the unit was something it had been calling for to prevent exaggerated and misleading claims being pursued and settled.
Peter Boland, of the alliance, said: "This is great news for anyone concerned about the scale and impact of fraudulent and exaggerated personal injury claims in Ireland.
"In particular, we note that the new fraud group will be funded by insurers but will be operationally independent of them." He said this was right and proper and would mean that there should be no barriers to the urgent establishment of the unit.
Mr Boland added that Insurance Ireland has said that all insurers in Ireland should contribute, not just members of the lobby group.
"This is fair enough, but negotiations should not be allowed to drag on," he said.
He said the cost-benefit analysis of this proposal by Insurance Ireland took half a year and further delays could not be tolerated.
He said there was a need for rapid enactment of the private members' bill being pursued in the Dáil by Fianna Fáil's Billy Kelleher, which would require that when an injury case is dismissed as exaggerated or misleading, the courts will send the evidence to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Insurers must also actively refer fraudulent claims to the new unit, he said.
Vincent Jennings, of the Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association (CSNA), welcomed the plans for the new unit, but said to work effectively it would need referrals from the courts and insurers.
Neil McDonnell, chief executive of business lobby group Isme, said we had plenty of laws and processes for dealing with fraud, but we tended not to use them. He said firms that were subject to claims were hit with huge premium hikes, but when the claim was found to be false, they often did not see their premiums fall.
A spokesman for Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said the new unit was a matter for the Garda Commissioner.