Insurance Ireland and the Consumer:
Insurance fraud is often perceived as being different from other types of crime as it is viewed as a victimless crime - no one is hurt. In the overall scheme of things, the making of a false claim or the exaggeration of a genuine claim by a few thousand Euro is seen as the proverbial drop in the ocean of the finances of insurance companies. However, the reality is very different. While most claims are genuine, a small minority of people make fraudulent and exaggerated claims. Insurance fraud costs insurance companies in Ireland an estimated €200 million annually which ends up being paid by honest policyholders.
Fraud is the premeditated commission of a serious criminal offence which merits trial on indictment before a judge and jury in the criminal courts, the same courts where crimes such as armed robberies, serious assaults and even murders are dealt with.
Types of insurance fraud are wide-ranging, from criminal gangs who engage in fraud rings to the individual who exaggerates a claim on their policy to get more money from their insurance company.
People who engage in fraud are often called ‘gentlemen criminals’ or ‘white collar criminals’ but experience from Insurance Confidential and An Garda Síochána show the reality is very different.
As a result of information provided to Insurance Confidential thousands of cases of suspected insurance fraud have been investigated. These include cases that involve non-disclosure at proposal stage, or where individuals who find themselves at a loss in circumstances not covered by their insurance policies alter the details of their claims to fraudulently obtain compensation from their insurance company. On the other end of the scale cases have been reported that involve crime gangs who have targeted insurance companies as a means of funding their criminal enterprises.
Insurance fraud is a crime and offenders face a maximum fine of up to €100,000 and/or up to 10 years in prison. Convictions are made under the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004.
Log on to www.insuranceconfidential.ie for further information.
Insurance Ireland - The Voice of Insurance