A new unit, The Insurance Fraud Coordination Office, will be operational by the middle of September according to a report in the Irish Independent and it will be able to vet and assess all suspected fraudulent claims.
According to the report, “A new protocol on insurance fraud is due to be signed in mid-September by Insurance Ireland and the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau, led by Detective Chief Superintendent Pat Lordan.”
It continues, “The launch of the unit comes after new perjury legislation was passed. The legislation means insurance scammers will now face up to 10 years in jail and a €100,000 fine.
“People who lie under oath or in sworn affidavits now face prosecution as perjury is on a statutory footing for the first time. Under the legislation, legal and medical professionals will also be indicted if they are found to have knowingly assisted in the bringing of a fraudulent claim.”
The Cost of Insurance Working Group recommended the setting-up of the new Garda IFCO and this was backed by the Personal Injuries Commission headed up by President Nicholas Kearns.
The Office is under the control of the GNECB.
The Alliance for Insurance Reform has warmly welcomed the establishment of the Office.
“The Alliance has been campaigning for the establishment of a Garda insurance fraud unit from Day One and we warmly welcome today’s news,” said Eoin McCambridge, Managing Director of McCambridge’s of Galway and Director of the Alliance, “It marks a major step in the battle against insurance fraud, formalising as it does a structured and streamlined approach by the Gardaí. It will act as a significant deterrent to anyone considering making a fictitious or exaggerated claim.”
Peter Boland, Director of the Alliance, agreed that, “The establishment of IFCO is the first step in the eradication of the scourge of insurance fraud,” but he added, “There are two more significant steps required to make sure this initiative works.
“Firstly, insurers must take fraud seriously by stepping-up their anti-fraud capacity through ‘The recruitment of suitably trained personnel and the development of various technological means of combating fraud’ as recommended by the Personal Injuries Commission chaired by Justice Nicholas Kearns. The days of settling fraudulent claims as an expedient and then passing the cost of this approach on to society must end.
“Secondly, we call on the Garda Commissioner to urgently establish Divisional structures to counter fraud. This initiative was announced by An Garda Siochana in 2019 but nothing has happened on it since.”