In support of small businesses and motorists all over Ireland that are suffering from spiralling insurance premiums coupled with crippling claims costs insurance experts at the CFM Group are calling on Financial Services Minister Eoghan Murphy to speed up the establishment of the insurance claims register to out what they describe as “Trip & Trick claimants” and other professional fraudsters.
CFM group, one of Ireland’s largest general insurance brokers, and the company behind the Insuremyshop.ie, Insuremyhouse.ie, Insuremyvan.ie and Coverinclick.ie brands, says it intends to campaign for a register which it believes will go a long way to curbing the activities of “professional insurance claimants”, who, they believe, are making a substantial living from falsifying multiple claims with the aim of being compensated by insurance pay-outs.
Jonathan Hehir, Managing Director of the CFM Group explained the issue,
“There is a relatively small, but very active and dangerous cohort of people out there who engage in the practice of falsifying insurance claims. This has the knock-on effect of putting upward pressure on insurance premiums – be they motor or commercial – as insurers endeavour to recoup the losses made on the back of these claims pay-outs. This, in turn, is having a devastating effect on some small Irish businesses as they can no longer afford their commercial insurance and public liability premiums. So too is the financial burden borne by Irish motorists who have seen their premiums soar massively in the last 18-24months
The most recent statistics from the Personal Injuries shows that there were 8906 application for public liability claims to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) in 2015 – that’s up from 7251 in 2010. In Longford alone the total number of motor, employer and public liability awards paid out in 2015 came to 174 and while most of these would be genuine cases – if even a fraction were false then that could be several businesses in Longford that suffer the consequences - and the livelihood of these business owners that could be in trouble”.
The insurance brokers say that the Minister should speed up the establishment of a confidential register, through which insurance claims managers could cross reference the names and addresses of any individual that they suspect might be a serial offender when it comes to claims. CFM contend that many businesses could be saved if this is brought forward.
“The idea is still in its infancy but the issue is so serious, it needs to happen. Claimant’s entitlements to privacy should not be affected as we would advocate that the register only be made available to the claims managers in insurance companies, and possibly the Irish Courts. It would create a more transparent system by which insurers could filter out the small but active cohort of pseudo claimants”.
Experts at CFM say that Irish businesses and motorists are being plagued by a high number of claims from a relatively small number of reoffending serial claimants who are systematically claiming for false injury or false liable.
Jonathan voiced his concerns,
“These people hide behind the law which protects their anonymity and ensures that they have the freedom to make multiple claims without insurers or courts being aware of their previous similar activity”.
Jonathan went on to point out that insurance fraud is not a “victimless crime” and that it inevitably hits the pockets of the general public,
“While some commentators may cry foul of the establishment of this register, and while we acknowledge that there are many honest people making insurance claims, we cannot let the rights of the minority rules over the rights of the majority – and the many honest policy holders out there should not have to pay for the activities of the dishonest few.
We have seen lots of press coverage in recent weeks & months of courts throwing out staged motor insurance claims. Lesser attention has been given to the plight of shop owners who are increasingly becoming the target of insurance fraudsters”.
Jonathan describes some anecdotal evidence they have witnessed,
“We’ve seen cases of people literally diving on the floor or pretending to trip over something, or they are pretending to steal items from the store but when questioned they accuse the shop assistant/ owner of defamation.
From what we see on the ground, a significant portion of these cases, possibly the majority, in some shops are intentionally planned by ‘Legal criminals’ that have invariably benefited from similar exercises in the past. Legal criminals are the smart ones – instead of breaking the law, they recognise how stupid the law is and make a tidy living manipulating it in their favour”.
The CFM Group report that another major fraud issue for shop owners is staged “wrongful arrest” or defamation – fraudsters pretend to steal an item and then when asked if the they have paid for the item they make a big deal out of it and the next day a solicitor’s letter arrives – typically these cases cost insurers between 5-10k.