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“Claims harvesting” industry adds to cost of insurance and must be tackled - Pearse Doherty TD

28 June, 2018 - by Pearse Doherty TD


Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said the issue of so-called “claims harvesting” in the insurance industry must be dealt with as the insurance cost for businesses, community groups and drivers continue to run out of control.

Deputy Doherty, raising the issue with An Tánaiste, said:

“Business continues to suffer from the runaway cost of insurance. One of the causes is the so called 'claims harvesting' that goes on. These are the equivalent of the ambulance chasers of the insurance industry.

"These are unqualified people giving the impression that they are solicitors and who, through aggressive advertising and inducements, target people to get their data to pass onto legal professionals.

"The Law Society says it has caused 14 of these websites to close down and is taking High Court action against two leading claims harvesting websites.

"The Alliance for Insurance Reform has called for regulation in this area.

"The Minister for Finance has told me he accepts this is a “grey area” for regulation. Since 2015 insurance premiums have risen massively- it is about time these types of “grey areas” were addressed. The lack of urgency on insurance reform from within government is again to be seen in this case.

"'Grey areas' lead to higher insurance costs for workers, business owners and drivers.

"If the Minister believes the Law Society’s actions are not sufficient to address claims harvesting then it falls on government to act.”

ENDS//

Note to editor: PQ on the above issue is available below - 

For Written Answer on : 27/06/2018

Question Number(s)112 Question Reference(s): 28148/18

Department: Finance

Asked by: Pearse Doherty T.D.

____________________________________________

QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Finance his plans to regulate claims harvesting companies in the area of personal injuries; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY

Allegations of companies engaging in “claims harvesting” practices were brought up during the consultation process for the Cost of Insurance Working Group’s Report on the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance.  The Working Group in turn put some of the points raised to the Law Society of Ireland.  The Law Society stated that it actively enforces the relevant regulations in this area, such as the Solicitors (Advertising) Regulations 2002, which prohibit solicitors’ advertisements offering inducements to make personal injuries claims, and Section 62 of the Solicitors Act 1954, which prohibits solicitors from rewarding or agreeing to reward unqualified persons for the introduction of legal business.  For example, the Law Society informed the Working Group that between 2014 and 2017, 14 “claims harvesting” websites were taken down as a result of its investigations, and the Society has instituted High Court proceedings against non-solicitors relating to two of the leading “claims harvesting” websites.

However, I am conscious that, notwithstanding the Law Society’s work in this regard, there is still something of a “grey area” in relation to the regulation of “claims harvesting” companies.  As a result, through the Cost of Insurance Working Group, my officials are continuing to examine the matter and are in the process of seeking to arrange a meeting with representatives from the Department of Justice and Equality, the Personal Injuries Assessment Board and the Law Society of Ireland in order to learn more about the extent of the problem within an Irish context.

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