Fianna Fáil bill aims to crack down on false insurance claims

Fianna Fáil bill aims to crack down on false insurance claims

People who make "false" or inaccurate insurance claims in a bid to defraud the system should have their case immediately sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions for potential criminal action, Fianna Fáil has warned.

The party outlined the plan as part of a new bill it has tabled in the Dáil, saying it is vital Ireland does not "have a society where the cheat is the one who wins".

Speaking to reporters in Leinster House, Fianna Fáil business spokesperson Billy Kelleher said under existing rules hundreds of millions of euro worth of fraudulent insurance claims are being uncovered across the country every year.

However, the Cork North Central TD said despite the high level of cases and the potential costs involved, there is currently no "mandatory" law ensuring people wrongly making the claims face legal action.

Mr Kelleher said we cannot have a society whereby the cheat is the one who wins.

He said: "If you go into a shop and rob it, there is a sanction, if you take money from the till there is a prosecution, but if you go into the shop and slip on the toilet floor and make a fraudulent claim, there is no sanction.

"So it is almost a crime that is encouraged by the fact we do not prosecute fraudsters and cheats."

Highlighting the changes he wants to introduce as part of his party's civil liability and courts (amendment) bill, Mr Kelleher said there must be clear "sanctions" for people who attempt to defraud companies, shops and other victims.

And, in a high-profile deterrent he said must now be introduced, he added that the only way to stamp out the behaviour is by guaranteeing anyone conducting fraud automatically faces a potential criminal conviction for what they have done.

"We've published this bill where it would make it mandatory for a judge to refer a fraudulent claim to the Director of Public Prosecution for investigation.

"Presently, if a person perjures himself in the court it can be referred to the DPP in the context of a fraudulent claim, and we're saying very clearly it should be referred to the DPP for prosecution.

"We can't have a society where the cheat is the one who wins, lawful business where put to refers," Mr Kelleher said.

While there have been previous attempts to address insurance fraud through two Government-backed working groups, Mr Kelleher said there is a need to put in place "mandatory" criminal action in certain circumstances.

He said existing fraud levels in Ireland "are out of kilter", saying levels are far higher than in other European countries.

It is due to be debated before the Dáil this evening

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