Surge in reports to insurance fraud hotline

REPORTS from members of the public to a confidential hotline dedicated to preventing insurance fraud have sky-rocketed since the start of the recession.

Figures obtained from Insurance Confidential, run by the Irish Insurance Federation, reveal since 2008 the number of cases under investigation has more than tripled.

Last year, insurance companies investigated more than 700 cases of suspected fraud, in comparison with 200 in 2008.

Spokesperson for the IIF Jane Driscoll said the figure looked set to exceed that this year, with 550 cases already reviewed to the end of August.

Ms Driscoll said the number of the calls coming through to the hotline was phenomenal, and three dedicated staff were manning the lines Monday to Friday.

The site just recently added a new online reporting service.

The IFF maintains the huge increase in reporting is down to the recession – and a new advertising campaign educating people that insurance fraud impacts on other people’s premiums.

“The campaign really has had an impact,” Ms Driscoll said. “We noticed a surge in calls following the start of the ads in June and we expect, with more ads later in the year to come, reporting will be up on last year.”

Most calls to the telephone line are anonymous.

“You do not need to submit any of your own details and any information you give will be treated in the strictest confidence by Insurance Confidential staff,” the IIF said.

“They will identify the affected insurer and work with them in an effort to ensure that the reported fraud is detected, investigated and stopped.”

But, it warned, if the case you have reported on goes to trial and you have provided your name or contact details you may be subject to a High Court order or similar direction.

It is estimated insurance fraud costs insurance firms €100 million annually.

However, Ms Driscoll said this did not factor in the time spent investigating fraudulent claims which were then dropped as a result of further inquires by companies.

She said the main type of fraud was claims on motor insurance, followed by home insurance.

A recent case include a husband and wife team who were handed down suspended prison sentences after they attempted to defraud an insurance company of €250,000 by falsely pretending the husband was driving a car that was involved in an accident resulting in damage to the car and injuries to his wife. Upon Garda investigation it was found that the wife, who claimed to be the passenger, was in fact driving the car at the time of the accident.

Another involved a staged burglary where two separate claims for burglaries in the same geographic area amounted to €103,000. It was noted that both claims were very similar.

When further investigated it was discovered the two claimants were good friends and it was proven that together they had staged their own burglaries. The cases were successfully prosecuted and one of the claimants was made pay €12,000 to the court, which was distributed between charities in the local area.

Suspected fraudulent claims can be reported to the Insurance Confidential hotline – 1890 333 333.


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