Motor crashes staged by international gangs have emerged as one of the most common types of fraud in Ireland.
The Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) warned that international fraudsters are taking advantage of the country’s high compensation payouts.
The body set up to compensate victims of road crashes caused by uninsured and unidentified drivers has described the development as “alarming”.
It is now adopting a zero tolerance approach to fraud to stamp it out.
In a report on fighting fraud, the MIBI instanced a case where four claimants flew in from the UK and were travelling as passengers in a rented vehicle. The vehicle was then allegedly involved in a crash caused by another untraced vehicle.
Initially, the incident was reported as material damage only but, when they returned to the UK, the claimants sought damages for personal injuries.
The MIBI said the claim for personal injuries was made in the absence of any medical assistance at the time of the incident.
Investigators were able to establish clear discrepancies in the claim, and when the MIBI warned that the claim would be entirely contested, all four claims were withdrawn.
MIBI chief executive David Fitzgerald said more people were making fraudulent claims — one out of eight claims handled by the MIBI is considered suspicious.
In its strategy document, published yesterday, the MIBI states it is committed to ensuring that anyone engaged in insurance fraud will be prosecuted.
It says during the first six months of this year, the MIBI generated claims’ fraud savings of more than €1.8m.
“We will make it as difficult as possible for fraudulent claimants to succeed,” said Mr Fitzgerald.
Also, during the first half of 2017, a further 158 new cases have been flagged as suspicious and are being thoroughly investigated.
Insurance Ireland has estimated that the value of insurance claims fraud in Ireland at €200m each year.
The MIBI says that about €50 on every motor insurance policy goes towards covering the cost of fraudulent claims every year.
It also estimates that motor policy holders also contribute about €30 on every policy towards the cost of claims made by the victims of uninsured and untraced drivers.
The MIBI estimated that it receives hundreds of claims every year where the evidence does not support the case being made.
It is committed to flagging any claim that does not have enough information or includes unsupported assertions or inconsistencies.
Any flagged claims would be thoroughly investigated and fought in court, if necessary.
It said that a new system was being developed to provide more information about uninsured drivers on Irish roads, which will include the capacity for automatic number-plate recognition.
Mr Fitzgerald said they would welcome the law being strengthened to make the offence of perjury a statutory offence.
Currently, perjury is a common law offence, and while those found guilty face up to 10 years in jail or a €100,000 fine, it is hard to prosecute.
It has been reported that the Department of Justice is examining the case made by the business representative group ISME, for a statutory offence of perjury.
ISME presented a submission to the department in a bid to tackle false and exaggerated injury claims that were pushing up premium costs.
Expert warns over different price offers in insuring home
It can cost €290 more to protect your home through a bank rather than a broker, an insurance expert has claimed.
Anecdotal evidence from industry experts suggests shopping for home insurance is something most people prefer to avoid.
The house insurance website www.insuremyhouse.ie is advising homeowners, particularly those who purchased the insurance through a bank, to beware of high pricing structures and to shop around.
The Ireland-based online home insurance broker ran
a cost comparison against some of the leading banks, sampling some house prices and location.
It found that the variation in price was significant, with banks being, in the main, more expensive than brokers.
Managing director of insuremyhouse.ie Jonathan Hehir, said the cost analysis looked at five regular sample customers and contrasted the premiums from a typical online broker and the five main banks.
“Our analysis found that, on a sample €250,000 terraced property in Co Louth, a customer, would be paying almost three times more for home insurance through Ulster Bank (€447) than if they went through a broker (€157). This is a huge difference of €290 or 184%,” said Mr Hehir.
“In another example, insurance for a €300,000 detached property in Tallaght came in at €503 with Bank of Ireland and €324 with a broker — a whopping difference of €264. The sample costings showed the huge price differentials in the market.
“We’re making it a priority
to make people aware of this and to save people money highlighting the benefits of shopping around.”
One way to get cheaper insurance is to secure your home. Most insurers offer discounts to people who have installed alarms in their house.
Another way is to check policy ‘add-ons’ and see if they if they are necessary. There is little point in specifying valuable items, such as iPads and bicycles, if you opted for a higher excess of €500.
Insuremyhoue.ie is a trade name of City Financial Marketing Group.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved