A local TD has called for the setting up of a Garda Fraud Unit which would be charged specifically with tackling incidents of insurance fraud.
A Garda fraud unit was recommended by the government's Cost of Insurance Working Group back in January 2017, however there has been no progress on the matter to date.
It is estimated fraudulent claims add on average €50 to insurance premiums a year, and the new unit would mirror the work of that which is already established in the UK.
The Personal Injuries Commission found earlier this year that Ireland’s damages are among the highest in the world, and nearly five times to that of the UK.
The country’s average personal injury payout is currently €21,000, while the costs awarded in the UK sit at around €4,000.
Now Cavan-Monaghan Fianna Fail TD Brendan Smith is taking up the mantle in calling for the provision, saying: “Every insurance customer pays the price for insurance fraud through increased premiums, and despite some claims about reduced costs, many people have seen the price they pay for cover increase year on year. Personal customers, farmers and businesses have all reported increased premiums over the past number of years – and in some cases people have had to give up their insurance cover because it had become so unaffordable.”
Stating that the Government has thus far failed to “get serious” on tackling incidents of insurance fraud in the State, he added: “Insurance fraud can be very difficult and time consuming to investigate and to prosecute. A dedicated Garda unit is needed to take on this task.
“Ireland is seen as weak when it comes to tackling this type of crime, and the fact that no effort has been made by this government to address it does nothing to improve our international reputation.”
With the Fianna Fáil having brought forward two key pieces of legislation in relation to the industry in recent years – one specifically giving Judges the power to pass information to the Director of Public Prosecution where a fraudulent claim has been made, Deputy Smith added: “Fine Gael cannot continue to bury its head in the sand as people the length and breadth of this country are paying through the nose for insurance. It needs to get serious about insurance reform and ensure that this unit is established without any further delay.”