A claims register must be established as a matter of urgency to out ‘trip and trick’ claimants, one of Ireland’s largest general insurance brokers has urged.
CFM Group says it will campaign for a register to curb the activities of “professional insurance claimants”.
It believes some people are making a substantial living from falsifying multiple insurance claims.
“There is a relatively small, but very active and dangerous cohort of people out there who engage in the practice of falsifying insurance claims,” said CFM Group managing director Jonathan Hehir.
Mr Hehir is concerned that shop owners are increasingly becoming the target of insurance fraudsters.
“We have seen cases of people literally diving onto the floor or pretending to trip over something, or they are pretending to steal items from the store but when questioned, they accuse the shop assistant or owner of defamation,” he said.
Mr Hehir said a significant number of cases are planned by legal criminals.
“Legal criminals are the smart ones — instead of breaking the law, they recognise how stupid the law is and make a tidy living manipulating it in their favour,” he said.
Another issue for shop owners is staged ‘wrongful arrest’ or defamation.
“Fraudsters pretend to steal an item and then when asked if they have paid for the item, they make a big deal out of it, and the next day a solicitor’s letter arrives,” he said.
“Typically these cases cost insurers between €5,000 and €10,000.”
Financial Services Minister Eoghan Murphy began looking at public liability insurance following the publication of the Report on the Cost of Motor Insurance in January.
The Cost of Insurance Working Group chaired by Mr Murphy recommended establishing a fraud database for the industry to detect patterns of fraud.
Another working group established in the Department of Justice and Equality to implement the recommendation, met for the first time in March and is continuing to meet on a regular basis.
An Garda Síochana, Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland, and Insurance Ireland are represented on the group.
Mr Hehir believes that a claimant’s entitlement to privacy will not be affected by a register — it would only be available to claims managers and, if necessary, the courts.
“It would create a more transparent system by which insurers could filter out the small but active cohort of pseudo claimants,” said Mr Hehir.
“These people hide behind the law which protects their anonymity and ensures that they have the freedom to make multiple claims without insurers or courts being aware of their previous similar activity.
“People do get injured in public places, and they deserve to be compensated because they have real injuries. We want to try and identify serial claimers.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved