Donegal TD Pearse Doherty has welcomed the news that a new Garda Insurance Fraud Coordination Office is to be established.
The office will allow policyholders, who suspect a fraudulent claim has been made against them, to report this directly to the Gardaí instead of relying on the insurer to report it.
Speaking on Monday evening, Sinn Féin Deputy Doherty said this new dedicated unit is something which Sinn Féin have been calling for for over four years.
He said: “The delay on the part of the government in establishing this unit speaks volumes and shows their total lack of urgency when it comes to reforming the insurance sector.
“The fact that policyholders can now take matters into their own hands in reporting suspected fraudulent claims is welcome and overdue.”
Deputy Doherty said that fraudulent claims are a serious issue and must be tackled, and more should be done with a lack of reporting.
“However, I have previously stated that the insurance industry has waged a public disinformation campaign on the level of fraudulent claims to justify the extortionate premiums it is charging consumers.
“Section 19 of the Criminal Justice Act makes clear that it is an offence for companies to fail to report known crimes such as fraud.
“Companies have repeatedly said that 20 percent of all claims are fraudulent and are causing premiums to rise. But under questioning at the Finance Committee, it was revealed to me that companies only report a small fraction of claims to the Gardaí as fraudulent.
“And from recent parliamentary questions which I asked, we know that just 48 instances of fraud were reported to Gardaí by insurers last year, down from 63 in the previous year.
“This means the incidents of insurance fraud reported to Gardaí amounts to less than 0.5pc of third-party injury claims in motor insurance alone.
“So the industry has both exaggerated the issue and has also failed to deal with it,” Doherty claimed.
“The establishment of the Garda Insurance Fraud Coordination Office will allow for better transparency in relation to the true existence of fraud in the sector.
“But more importantly, it gives the policyholder the power to deal with suspected fraudulent cases which have been made against them.”