No deterrent to insurance fraud, claims Flanagan

Investigations and prosecutions are too infrequent to act as a deterrent against fraudulent behaviour, Justice and Equality Minister Charlie Flanagan has said.

Mr Flanagan, speaking at Insurance Ireland’s fifth fraud conference in Dublin yesterday, said that he is “determined to address” the problem.

He said escalating costs of insurance cover in recent years had led people to change their mindset, and exaggerated, opportunistic insurance fraud is one of the factors contributing to rising premiums which have affected people so severely.

“This Government has taken action to address those escalating premiums,” said Mr Flanagan.

“In July 2016, we established the Cost of Insurance Working Group, initially under the chairmanship of [Local Government] Minister Eoghan Murphy and more recently chaired by [junior finance] minister Michael D’Arcy.

“I am pleased to report that a sub-group is looking at this very issue and the report will be finalised in the coming weeks which should outline the steps that can be taken to allow for this information-sharing to take place in a way that will be compliant with the new General Data Protection Regulation.”

Meanwhile, Chief Superintendent Pat Lordan of the National Economic Crime Bureau (NECB) said a sub-committee of the Cost of Insurance Working Group should be in a position to send its report on information sharing to the steering group soon. He said the group is examining the sharing of information and intelligence between insurance companies.

The group has yet to decide if only people with convictions for fraud would be included or if it would also include people suspected of fraud. The sub-committee is currently in discussions with the Data Protection Commissioner on the issue.

On the proposal for an industry-funded unit to prevent and detect insurance fraud, Mr Flanagan said the NECB was in discussions with Insurance Ireland about the matter.

He said the NECB has visited the City of London Police to examine its Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department system and that the City of London Police has visited Dublin.


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