Time to end the navel-gazing and set-up a Garda anti-insurance fraud unit - Pearse Doherty TD
Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said it is time for Minister D’Arcy and the government to "stop the navel gazing" and instead set-up a publicly funded Garda unit to tackle insurance fraud without any more delay.
Teachta Doherty was responding to a parliamentary reply from the Minister and news of his meeting with the Garda Commissioner on the issue.
He called on Minister D’Arcy to deliver a message to the Garda Commissioner that a unit to tackle insurance fraud is needed and that government is ready to stump up to pay for it.
Deputy Doherty said:
“It has been apparent for some time now that having proposed an industry funded unit that the Minister has been played like a fiddle by the insurers.
"As Sinn Féin established through FOI documents, the insurance industry delayed and delayed a decision to the point of absurdity.
"This idea goes back to the days of Minister Eoghan Murphy and when in early 2017 I warned him that a privately funded system was not the appropriate one.
"The idea of industry funding for this unit must be dropped. It is a bad idea and must be binned. No part of An Garda Síochána should be reliant on private funding.
"Two years after the launch of the plan to tackle the coasts of insurance the government is still as far away as ever from setting up a specialised Garda unit to tackle insurance fraud.
"Meanwhile week after week, we hear of fraudulent cases being thrown out of court but there are no follow up prosecutions against those suspected of fraud.
"There are many factors behind the spike in insurance prices and fraud is one of them yet this key recommendation is now a year late in its implementation.
"Insurance is a major factor in the high cost living ordinary workers face and is putting significant pressures on business face yet the government seems incapable of putting in place the most basic measures to tackle it.
"I am calling on Minister D’ Arcy to deliver a massage to the Garda Commissioner that the country needs a unit to tackle insurance fraud, that it needs it urgently, and that the government is prepared to resource it from the public purse. That is how progress can be made, not through any more navel gazing.”
Please find the PQ details below:
For Oral Answer on : 22/11/2018
Question Number(s): 14 Question Reference(s): 48599/18
Asked by: Pearse Doherty T.D.
To ask the Minister for Finance his plans to amend the recommendations in the Cost of Insurance Working Group plan that a publicly funded Garda anti-fraud unit to deal with insurance fraud be put in place.
As the Deputy is aware, recommendation 26 of the Report on the Cost of Motor Insurance calls for An Garda Síochána to explore the potential for further cooperation between it and the insurance sector in relation to insurance fraud investigation. In this regard, one measure which the Working Group considered as part of the Report was the establishment of a dedicated team within An Garda Síochána to tackle insurance fraud based on the UK model which is funded by the insurance industry. At this juncture, there are no plans to amend the recommendations of the Cost of Insurance Working Group Report in relation to the issue of the establishment of a Garda anti-fraud unit.
I, as Minister of State for Financial Services and Insurance, have no role in relation to the parameters of a proposed Garda Fraud Unit or how it might be funded. I understand that, at this stage, the Garda Commissioner has yet to form a view on the recommendation, and that no proposal or recommendation has yet been submitted to the Minister for Justice and Equality, Mr. Charlie Flanagan, T.D. It will then be a matter for Minister Flanagan, on foot of a recommendation from the Garda Commissioner, to decide whether the establishment of the proposed unit is something which should be pursued.
Aside from consideration of the feasibility of a fraud unit, there has been significant progress in enhancing the level of engagement and cooperation between An Garda Síochána and the insurance industry. Part of this arose from the Fraud Roundtable, which was hosted by the Department of Finance and which involved wide stakeholder consultation. A key output from this process was the agreement of guidelines titled “Guidelines for the Reporting of Suspected Fraudulent Insurance Claims by Insurance Entities to An Garda Síochána”, which were published on 1st October.
Another important output of this engagement is the commitment for the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau and Insurance Ireland’s Anti-Fraud Forum to meet on a regular basis in order to discuss and act upon current and ongoing general issues which arise in the area of insurance fraud. This enhanced cooperation, I believe, will be very important going forward in tackling the issue of fraudulent claims.