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Hotline not the answer to insurance problems

16 April, 2004


Sinn Féin EU candidate for Leinster, John Dwyer, has said that while the new insurance hotline may cut down the number of fraudulent claims, it is not the answer to the problems with the insurance industry in this state.

Reports today say that the hotline has received more than 3,000 calls resulting in 1,500 cases of alleged fraud, in the last 12 months. However Mr Dwyer said that the hotline was an attempt to convince the public that fraudulent claims are "the only reason for the extortionate insurance costs in Ireland," and that it "puts an unfair onus on the public to deal with a problem that is not of their making."

Mr Dwyer said:

"The initiatives being introduced to deal with the problems in the insurance industry in Ireland are severely lacking in both capability and foresight. The 'fraud hotline' may be reducing the number of false claims being taken, but it is not the answer to the problem. Another measure taken by the government, the 'Civil Liability Bill (2004)', which reduces the time limit for bringing personal injuries claims from three years to one, is also completely unreasonable -- taking no account of legitimate injuries which may surface at a later date.

"There are several reasons why insurance costs are out of control in this state. The lack of competition, often due to the refusal of the industry to share cost information with 'outsiders' and the astronomical legal costs, which are often based on compensation payments and average at 39.5%, are just two of them.

"The insurance industry is ten times more profitable in absolute terms than its largest counterpart in Britain. We need a wide-ranging reform of the ways legal fees are set and tough regulations placed on the insurance industry. Pay-out in claims also have to be reduced. Health and safety authority staff need to be doubled to prevent accidents from taking place. The Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authorities, and also the government, should be able to deal with this.

"The hotline is one way to cut down claims, but it is also an attempt to convince the public that fraudulent claims are the only reason for the extortionate insurance costs in Ireland. It is putting an unfair onus on the public to deal with a problem that is not of their making." ENDS

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