Insurers accused of ‘deflecting’ from high cost of insurance

THE staging of a conference on insurance fraud by the insurance sector’s lobby group is a “deflection” from the high costs of cover, it has been claimed.

nsurance Ireland hosted its tenth annual Fraud Conference in the Convention Center in Dublin earlier this week, with hundreds of delegates attending.

But the Alliance for Insurance Reform (AIR) said that official figures show a fall in reported instances of fraudulent insurance claims, and it alleged that the industry was not taking the issue seriously.

Director of AIR Peter Boland said Central Statistics Office data for what is called Recorded Crime Incidents of Insurance Claim Fraud since records began in 2019 suggest that the level of this crime is insignificant and falling fast.

The Garda Insurance Fraud Coordination Office (IFCO) was established under the control of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) in August 2021.

The office has taken over ongoing Garda insurance fraud investigations and a number of files are with the DPP awaiting decisions on prosecutions, including files related to solicitors and a doctor.

Mr Boland said: “Our members, the policyholders who ultimately pay for insurance fraud, are well aware of the level of insurance fraud in Ireland. It is a matter of enormous frustration to them.

“However, the numbers suggest that insurers are happy to use insurance fraud and in particular Insurance Ireland conference, to deflect criticism of insurance costs and expect the Garda Siochana to step up to the mark in preventing it, but are not prepared to invest in detection or reporting themselves.”

Mr Boland claimed that early indications are that insurers are not taking the process seriously.

The CSO data shows that there were 153 cases reported in 2019. This fell to 120 in 2020, but was down to 84 last year. This means the number of cases has tumbled by 45pc in two years.

He said this means the number of recorded insurance fraud cases is less than 1pc of the average number of all personal injury claims.

This is despite insurance company chief executives claiming before an Oireachtas Committee that approximately 20pc of the personal injury claims they receive could be fraudulent or exaggerated.

But the lobby group for the industry, Insurance Ireland, strenuously rejected suggestions the fraud conference was a distraction from high premiums.

“We reject any suggestion that the Fraud Conference is a distraction. It is an important event that has been running for 10 years.”

Insurance Ireland said that under the Government’s Action Plan for Insurance Reform, insurers are obliged to work to deter and detect incidences of fraud.

It added: “The event is an opportunity to share information and progress on the anti-fraud efforts of the Insurers.

“The sharing of information of initiatives and activities very often prevents would-be fraudsters succeeding in their efforts to perpetrate fraud.”

Insurance Ireland insisted its members are committed to deterring and detecting fraud and helping to secure prosecutions where possible.

Insurers have invested large resources in both special investigations units as well as in the claims handling area in efforts to detect fraudulent and exaggerated claims, Insurance Ireland said.

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