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Garda Insurance Fraud Unit still not delivered due to Industry foot dragging – Ó Laoghaire

17 August, 2018 - by Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has stated that the foot dragging and delaying of Insurance Ireland has stopped delivery of such a Unit.

He was speaking after Sinn Féin received documents under Freedom of Information which documented a serious of missed deadlines by Insurance Ireland, since early 2017, to progress the proposal to set up an Insurance Fraud Unit within An Garda Síochána funded by the Insurance Industry.

The Freedom of information request relates to all records related to the establishment of a Garda Insurance Fraud Unit.

The Cork South-Central TD said:

“Insurance Ireland have been shown clearly to be dragging their feet here. The proposal to create an Insurance Fraud Unit has been on the agenda since early 2017 and is identified in the Report on the Cost of Motor Insurance in January 2017. An Garda Síochána had submitted a mechanism for further cooperation to Insurance Ireland in the first quarter of 2017.

“Since then, there has been delay after delay after delay, and we are at the point where we have a vague commitment from Insurance Ireland but no detail.

“Firstly, this was due to be discussed at June 2017 meeting of Non-Life Council of Insurance Ireland. This was deferred until September 2017. The decision was due then to be communicated to an Garda Síochána in October 2017. By December 2017, Insurance Ireland came up with the proposal for a full cost benefit analysis on the proposal to be subject to approval by the Garda Commissioner and the Minister for Justice.

“This Cost Benefit analysis, as well as a definitive response to the proposal from An Garda Síochána, was to be due before the end of quarter 1 2018, by 6th March was due to be completed within a month or so of that date. However, by 12th April 2018, Insurance Ireland was stating that it expected to be in a position to provide an update on its cost benefit analysis by end June. Given that Insurance Ireland have made such a point of identifying fraud as a cause of insurance premium increase, one would have thought a cost benefit analysis would have been relatively straight forward.

“A briefing note prepared for Minister of State Michael D’Arcy, ahead of an Oireachtas Finance Committee meeting on May 29th, states that Insurance Ireland expects to be able to provide an update on this by the end of June 2018, but that no preliminary outcome of this analysis has been provided. As of 31st May and correspondence between Department of Finance and Charlie Weston of INM, the CBA was still awaited.

“I support the creation of an Insurance Fraud Unit. Insurance fraud is theft and must be pursued rigorously and prosecuted.  However, we still have concerns at the proposal for a section of an Garda Síochána being funded through Industry.

“The independence of An Garda Síochána is essential, and a direct funding relationship with private interests undermines that independence. This is in a context where the insurance industry is under investigation by the competition authorities in the State and at EU level over anti-competitive practices. Any such unit should be funded by the State and, at a cost of approximately €1m, this is more than within the capacity of Government.

“Government have let this proposal slip off the agenda; by abdicating the states responsibility for tackling Insurance Fraud, and by allowing Insurance Industry Ireland to string the rest of us along.

It is clear now that Insurance Ireland have, despite their protestations that fraud is a cause of increased premiums, decided that. In fact, tackling fraud is not an important part of their agenda.” 

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