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Specialised Insurance Fraud Unit launched in Ireland

The Irish Government are launching a new Insurance Fraud Coordination Office (IFCO) under the control of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) later this month as part of on-going efforts to combat insurance fraud. The GNECB have historically dealt with reports of suspected insurance fraud, however there will now be a dedicated unit specifically dealing with these cases.

The unit will investigate reports of suspected fraud from policyholders directly, as well as cases referred by insurers. The new unit will vet and assess the claims, investigating the larger cases themselves and passing others to local divisions for investigation.

 

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In July 2021, the garda in charge of the GNECB made a statement indicating that the unit required additional staff and resources in order to improve the current system investigating white collar crime. One assumes the IFCO will be appropriately staffed and resourced, otherwise the expanding remit could place further strain on an already overstrained system.

Insurers in Ireland have faced criticism for failing to refer more cases to the gardai where insurance fraud is suspected. The establishment of this specialised unit is no doubt intended to encourage more reporting and ultimately, along with the recent Judicial Council Guidelines which significantly reduce damages in claims involving report of more minor soft tissue injuries, lead to a reduction in insurance premiums

The establishment of the IFO has been welcomed by consumer groups in Ireland, as has the introduction of new perjury laws intended to crack down on fraudulent claims. Insurers will come under increasing pressure to reduce premiums in light of the new measures introduced this year to reduce claims costs and to deter insurance fraud.

Insurance Ireland already has an anonymous fraud reporting facility at www.insuranceconfidential.ie however anonymous reporting leads to difficulty obtaining prosecutions. In order to truly deter insurance fraud it is essential that there are more convictions. At present, the absence of many convictions leads to complacency, and a perception that there are no consequences of making a fraudulent claim or exaggerating a genuine claim. More convictions will reinforce the message that it isn’t worth it to engage in insurance fraud.

Eva Bashford, Partner in Horwich Farrelly Ireland said: We welcome the introduction of a dedicated insurance fraud office, however we hope the new office is provided with adequate resources to effectively carry out their remit. It will be interesting to follow the work of the new unit and to analyse the reporting breakdown vis-à-vis policyholders v insurers and cases leading to prosecution. Ultimately, we are hopeful that the establishment of a dedicated insurance fraud unit will lead to more prosecutions and convictions which are necessary to effectively tackle insurance fraud.

For more information, please contact Eva Bashford.

 

 

Publication Author:

 

Eva Bashford

Eva Bashford
Partner