The Alliance for Insurance Reform, an organisation that includes the VFI and the LVA, has welcomed the long-awaited confirmation from Insurance Ireland that they will fund the establishment of a new Garda Insurance Fraud Unit. The setting up of the unit is something the Alliance has been calling for to help prevent exaggerated and misleading claims being pursued and settled.
Commenting on the announcement, Peter Boland of the Alliance for Insurance Reform 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. This is right and proper and will mean that there should be no barriers to the urgent establishment of the unit.”
Boland further commented: “There are a number of steps that are now required to ensure that the Unit is up and running as quickly as possible. Firstly, Insurance Ireland have said that all insurers writing insurance in Ireland should contribute, not just members of the industry lobby group. This is fair enough but negotiations should not be allowed to drag on in this regard. The cost-benefit analysis of this proposal by Insurance Ireland took over half a year and further delays cannot be tolerated by anyone suffering from sky-high insurance premiums or targeted by fraudulent insurance claimsters.
“Secondly, we need rapid enactment of the private members’ bill currently being pursued in the Dáil by Deputy Billy Kelleher TD. This requires that where a personal injury case is dismissed as exaggerated or misleading by the courts, that the courts shall send the transcript of the case and any relevant evidence to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
“Thirdly, we expect insurers to actively refer fraudulent claimsters to the new unit. The vast majority of personal injury claims never make it to court because most insurers settle before they get there, on the basis that it would cost more to pursue than to settle. This policy needs to change so that more insurers stand up to fraudsters on behalf of their customers and society.
“Finally and most importantly, we need political will from the current Government. The Minister with responsibility for insurance, Michael D’Arcy TD, said at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Finance on the 29th May that the Garda Insurance Fraud Unit is ‘a matter for the Gardai’. However the Alliance understand that the Gardai are ready for this and have the human resources to do it. Now that the finances are in place, it is up to the Government to ensure that there is a specific, urgent timeline established to quickly get the unit up and running in order to place a serious deterrent in the way of heedless claimsters, on behalf of Irish policyholders and society as a whole.”