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'Fraudulent claims will continue with payouts four times higher than in UK'

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The representative body for the insurance sector is warning fraudulent and exaggerated injury claims will continue as long as Ireland gives out substantially higher awards than other countries.

Campaigners have urged the new government to make insurance reform a top priority.

However, hopes of this received a blow after a dedicated subcommittee for insurance reform was dropped from the final programme for government at the last minute.

Insurance Ireland said it welcomes any commitment to insurance reform, but fears high payouts for minor injuries and a lack of prosecution of fraudulent claimants may impact this.

"In the last week alone, media have reported on a case in Limerick where two men pleaded guilty to staging a road accident," a spokesperson said.

"While we have injury awards that are on average 4.4 times that of the UK, we can expect these cases to continue."

When asked about some insurers settling whiplash claims after minor collisions for huge amounts, Insurance Ireland said companies vigorously contest misleading claims. "We make no apologies for this and will continue to do so in the interests of all policyholders," the spokesperson added.

"Insurance Ireland believes that a dedicated full-time specialist insurance fraud unit in An Garda Síochána is needed so that the people who make false and exaggerated claims are identified and that they face the full rigours of the law for doing so.

"The insurance industry will support this initiative to ensure An Garda Síochána have the necessary resources to operate effectively.

"We would also call for the reform of perjury laws so that those making false or exaggerated claims in court will face prosecution."

The Dáil this week heard how insurance reform must be a top priority for the Government in order to prevent more businesses from closing.

Casualties

Fianna Fáil TD Robert Troy stressed changes needed to be "seen by businesses early on in this government", accusing some insurers of behaving "appallingly".

Fort Lucan Outdoor Adventureland in Dublin, one of the biggest adventure playgrounds in Ireland, is one of the latest casualties of the insurance crisis after it was forced to close its doors.

Last year the company had to remove two trampolines from its premises to try to bring its insurance premium down as they were deemed "high-risk".

Gillian Martin-Smith, manager of Fort Lucan, said the company's premium had doubled to more than €50,000 since 2015.

Fort Lucan had been operating for 26 years and the news has upset customers.

"We are devastated to announce due to Covid-19 restrictions and high insurance costs, Fort Lucan will be unable to open for 2020," the company said in a statement.

However, the company said it will be back in 2021 with a "brand new attraction".

Irish Independent