Motorists pay €75 on premiums due to rise in fraud cases

Claims from staged road ‘accidents’ are costing law-abiding motorists up to €75 extra on their premiums a year, according to a leading insurance company.

Insurers Aviva said it is a “growing problem” and it is concerned at “organised rings” that were planning crashes and “selling seats” in the vehicles to other people as part of the fraud.

Aviva fraud manager Robert Smyth, a retired senior detective, told the Irish Examiner that criminals were selling seats for €150 to €200 to people, who could make around €5,000 in a compensation claim.

The insurance industry has previously said fraud was costing companies an estimated €200m annually, which “ends up being paid by honest policyholders”.

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Mr Smyth said the industry estimated that claims from staged accidents were resulting in between €50 and €75 extra being added to the premiums of all motorists.

He said Aviva was taking the issue very seriously and has engaged in operations with gardaí to target gangs involved in the racket.

“Staged accidents are a growing problem and is becoming a real cause of concern for Aviva and several other insurance companies,” said Mr Smyth.

“It’s the organised part of it we are concerned about. These are organised rings. They arrange the cars and the location and the drivers. They then sell seats. People can spend €150 or €200 for a seat.”

He said these individuals — there can be up to eight people, if two cars are involved — claim compensation off the driver, who is also claiming from the insurance company. He said an individual could receive €5,000 in compensation.

Mr Smyth said there was a wider issue of the time and resources of gardaí, ambulances, and emergency departments used to deal with these cases.

He said gardaí were giving “fantastic assistance” and that several investigations were ongoing.

A compensation case was recently thrown out of Cork Circuit Court, where a driver and four passengers lodged claims, after the judge said he did not believe the plaintiffs.

Last month, Patrick and Eileen Browne of Ballybeg West, Buttevant, Co Cork, were convicted in relation to a fraudulent compensation claim of more than €22,500.

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