Cowen welcomes bill to tackle insurance fraudsters
Fianna Fáil TD for Offaly, Barry Cowen, has said that insurance fraudsters need to know that they will feel the full force of the law and not a slap on the wrist if convicted of insurance fraud.
Deputy Cowen was commenting ahead of second stage of the Civil Liability and Courts (Amendment) Bill.
Deputy Cowen said: "Insurance fraud continues to be a major issue and is among the many reasons why insurance costs have skyrocketed for businesses and individuals across the country in recent times. Despite this, the government has failed to put in place any measures that would tackle the issue of fraud."
"We’ve all heard stories of businesses having to close their doors as a result of increased insurance costs. Only last month Cosmic Bowl in Tullamore had to close their doors until they could find an insurance provider that wasn’t ten times the premium they had paid previously."
"Thankfully they found suitable insurance cover with a European underwriter but there are many other crèche’s, marts and publicly organised events which have to shut down because of unsustainable insurance costs. Fraudulent claims are undoubtedly a huge contributing factor to these increases," Cowen added.
"At the moment someone facing a summary conviction for insurance fraud can face a maximum of 12 months in prison and/or a fine of up to €3,000. This Bill will increase the maximum fine for a summary conviction to that of a Class A fine of €5,000. However, to get to the stage of defending a claim in the courts, a defendant or the insurance company must incur significant legal fees. These often go unpaid by the perpetrator of insurance fraud."
"This Bill states that, when a claim is dismissed because it is suspected to be fraudulent, the courts shall order the claimant to pay the legal fees of the defendant."
"This is in recognition of the fact that significant legal costs are incurred by defending a fraudulent claim. This should at the very least make fraudsters think before they act,” concluded Deputy Cowen.