Crack-down could see Insurance fraudsters facing jail time

The Motor Insurers' Bureau of Ireland says as many as one-in-eight claims are "suspicious"

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People who make fraudulent insurance claims could face a prison sentence under new proposals under consideration by government.

According to a new report from the Motor Insurers' Bureau of Ireland (MIBI), as many as one in every eight insurance claims they handle are “suspicious.”

The Department of Justice is looking to crack down on those who lie about their claims.

On Newstalk Breakfast, MIBI chief executive David Fitzgerald said there has been an increase in bogus cases over recent years:

“We believe that it is a growing problem and that is why we are increasing resources in the area and taking a harder line,” he said.

“We are preparing to invest the money now for the long term.

“In terms of resources and technology, we are prepared to spend the money on fighting these cases.”

Statutory offence

The Department of Justice is reportedly examining the possibility of strengthening Irish laws to make perjury a statutory offence – meaning that anyone caught lying on an insurance claims form could ultimate face a fine or a jail sentence.

Currently perjury is a common law offence and is regarded as being difficult to prosecute.

MIBI Chief Executive David Fitzgerald says fraudulent claims increase the cost of insurance policies for all motorists - and make the roads more dangerous.

“We believe as many as one-in-eight claims that we are seeing now are suspicious,” he said.

“We have put a lot of resources into this since the start of this year and we have already generated €2m in fraud savings so we think that it is a significant problem.”

The bureau is hopeful that its commitment to stamping out fraud will help stamp out the impression that insurance scams are easy.

“It is a difficult task, but our belief is that by thoroughly investigating unsubstantiated claims and making it more difficult for them to succeed, over time we will see a drop in the number of suspicious claims submitted - and ultimately that will benefit all Irish motorists,” said Mr Fitzgerald.

Insurance fraud is often cited by companies as one of the key drivers of the rising cost of insurance premiums – which have rocketed by approximately 70% over the past three years.