Exaggerated insurance claims are “an income supplement to the morally challenged”, says the State’s largest public sector insurer head of claims.
Courts must take a firmer stance in not only throwing out fraudulent claims but also imposing costs and prison terms on fraudsters, according to Michael Whelehan, head of claims at Irish Public Bodies Insurance, the State insurer of public bodies and councils.
He warned that those who lodge fraudulent claims are “walking free from courts with the message to spin the wheel again”.
Chief Justice Frank Clarke has announced that a new committee to review personal injury awards will begin soon.
The failure to tackle excessive payouts is undermining community and voluntary events as funds are diverted from services to pay for increased insurance premiums, Mr Whelehan has warned.
He said existing rules need to be implemented “with vigour”, and fraudulent claims should be met with “costs, dismissal, fines and imprisonment as realistic propositions”.
“Local services will be constrained, leisure and amenities curtailed, funds diverted, and we will continue to fund the making of insurance claims and exaggerated insurance claims as an income supplement to the morally challenged,” said Mr Justice Clarke.
John O’Driscoll, Assistant Garda Commissioner in special crime operations, said there may be more convictions.
“Potential exists to achieve additional success in the prevention and detection of insurance-related fraud,” he said.
Under Operation Coatee, gardaí target “not only those that receive a payment arising from a bogus, questionable and exaggerated claim but also anyone who facilitates the commission of crime in this nature”.