Minister of State at the Department of Finance with special responsibility for Financial Services and Insurance, Michael D’Arcy has defended the Minister for Justice’s decision to shelve plans for a dedicated Garda Insurance Fraud Unit.
Mr D’Arcy told Newstalk Breakfast that the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau will guide Garda divisions which means gardaí “will be chasing insurance fraudsters in every county in the country.”
A dedicated Insurance Fraud Unit would likely have been based in Dublin which would have focused on larger cases, he said. “This issue needs to be tackled throughout the length and breadth of the country.
“People making false and exaggerated claims need to be pursued.”
He denied that a dedicated Garda Insurance Fraud Unit had been Government policy.
It was a matter for the Garda Commissioner who had decided that the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau will guide Garda divisions and provide training in the investigation of insurance fraud, he said.
When asked about the findings of the report of the Personal Injuries Commission, in which Mr Justice Kearns called for the establishment of a Garda fraud investigation bureau along the lines of the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department in the UK, Mr D’Arcy said that the UK was different and what had worked there would not necessarily work in Ireland.
It isn’t easy to prosecute insurance fraud claims or to prove exaggerated claims, he said. There is a need to tackle the culture behind such claims.
Peter Boland Director of the Alliance for Insurance Reform, said he was disappointed by the decision by the Minister for Justice, adding that a dedicated insurance fraud unit was “vital” for prosecutions and to provide “a chilling effect” on people deciding to make fraudulent claims.
“There is a culture of fraudulent claims in insurance. It is a specialist, technical area, the gardaí are not resourced or trained.”