Fraud could push more people out of insurance market

Over €268m was paid out in personal injury claims last year

Fraud could push more people out of insurance market

File photo

The founder of fast-food chain Supermacs has said if fraudulent claims persist in Ireland, more people will not be unable to afford insurance.

It comes after Pat McDonagh posted a video, which he says shows two men staging a slip and fall in one of his outlets to get compensation.

He told Newstalk Breakfast false claims are making a comeback.

"It's a growing problem again - it had been a problem back 15 or 18 years ago and then we addressed it at the time and now it's growing again.

But its not just the fraudulent claims increasing, it's the non-contesting of the awards by insurance companies, it's the generous awards being given out in the courts.

"What's probably really going to happen is that people, just like the motor insurance, people won't be able to afford insurance."

He says his business would see four or five staged claims - and 50 to 60 genuine claims.

But he cautions: "Of those, some of them are quite exaggerated as well - I've never seen a claiming coming in that's under-estimated, let's put it that way.

"It's always over-exaggerated and there's a lot of add-ons to it, whether its psychological trauma or whatever it is that they're now suffering that wasn't there let's say 10 or 15 years ago".

"The court awards increased from €6,300 in the District Court to €15,000 - and the Circuit Court awards increased from €38,000 up to €75,000.

"When those increase, the legal costs increase and the other expert witness costs increase as well.

"When you have the likes of that, then the judges obviously think that 'they're after increasing the limits on the awards so they must mean that we've to give out more'".

But Mr McDonagh also says settling claims is encouraging further fraudulent ones.

In its 2015 annual overview, the Injuries Board found 33,561 new personal injury claims were submitted. This was a 6% increase in new claims.

The board made 11,734 awards for personal injury compensation and delivered a total of €268.4m in 2015, compared to 12,420 awards and €281.2m in 2014.

But it says the reduction in awards does not reflect any change to underlying claim volumes - but is actually due to timing, with some volume from 2015 pushing into 2016.

Public liability awards, for injuries resulting from accidents in public places, made up 17% of total awards in 2015 - with the average award reaching €25,213.