Fianna Fáil calls for progress on Garda insurance fraud unit

Fianna Fáil's Michael McGrath.

Fianna Fáil has called on the Government to move on proposals made by its own expert group 15 months ago for a dedicated Garda insurance fraud unit.

The party’s finance spokesman Michael McGrath said that since the suggestion was mooted there had been “no progress” in establishing the body.

“While insurance fraud is only one factor in rising premiums, it is undoubtedly the case that exaggerated and fraudulent claims have a direct effect on the price of insurance cover being charged on individuals, households, and businesses,” he said.

The Government’s Cost of Insurance Working Group Report of January 2017 recommended that consideration be given “to the feasibility of a specialised and dedicated insurance fraud unit within An Garda Síochána, funded by industry”.

Quarterly updates on the report show that by May 2017 the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) had visited a similar unit in Britain.

By the July 2017 update, the GNECB had engaged with the industry with a view to examining a proposal that it would fund the unit.

It said that the Department of Justice had indicated that the bureau had submitted a costed proposal to Insurance Ireland, the representative body for the industry.

The October update said that the Non-Life Council of Insurance Ireland indicated that the industry agreed with exploring the proposal further, subject to a full cost-benefit analysis by the industry’s Chief Financial Officers’ Working Group.

The February 2018 update did not show up any progress on developments.

Mr McGrath said:

As of October last year, Insurance Ireland agreed to this proposal ‘in principle’. However, there is still no further update. We now need the Department of Justice to work with An Garda Síochána in order to sign off on this proposal and establish this unit.

He said there was a wider need for data on prosecutions and convictions for insurance fraud.

A spokesman for Insurance Ireland said: “Discussions are still ongoing between An Garda Síochána and Insurance Ireland in relation to the proposed dedicated fraud unit. The experience of a similar unit in the UK, which is funded by the insurance industry, has been positive.”

A Department of Justice spokesman said “further progress” was dependent on the cost-benefit analysis being conducted by the industry.

He added: “Insurance Ireland has indicated that it expects to be in a position to provide an update in this regard by end of June 2018. Any agreed mechanism will, of course, be subject to the approval of the garda commissioner and the minister.”

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