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Government accused of 'washing its hands' of pledge to publish insurance claims database

The Central Bank is to publish its report on the database later this year – but it was meant to have been set up at the end of 2018.

Image: Shutterstock/Monkey Business Images

FIANNA FÁIL HAS criticised the government for not giving a specific date for the set up of a database that would map trends of motor insurance claims.

The Cost of Motor Insurance Report recommended establishing a National Claims Information Database (NCID) to allow for an in-depth analysis of annual trends in car insurance claims.

In response to a query from Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath, the Department of Finance said that the database would include details such as where claims are settled and the various costs associated with the claims process, but said that it wouldn’t aggregate the data on a claim-by-claim basis as there would be “major data protection implications” including GDPR issues, among other problems.

The Department of Finance said that it was seen as “key to developing an understanding of how claims costs are impacting premiums”, adding that the Central Bank is to begin collecting the required data from insurers and to publish its report later this year.

McGrath criticised the delay in publishing the database, which was meant to be “up and running” in the second quarter of last year.

Unfortunately, the government only got around to legislating for it in July last year and the legislation was finally enacted last December. Based on the response I have received; the government has completely washed its hands of the issue. The Minister only expects a report later this year, but no definitive date is provided.

At the weekend, a tweet went viral of Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty questioning representatives from the insurance industry who appeared in front of the Oireachtas Finance Committee about their claim that 20% of insurance claims were suspected of fraud.

Doherty questioned what proportion of these claims were reported to Gardaí, to which representatives replied only a fraction. Doherty surmised that the number of fraudulent claims was closer to 1% rather than 20%.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan, and the Law Society of Ireland were among those who praised Doherty for his questioning of the insurance industry.

“I don’t often agree with Sinn Féin, but I am 100% with Pearse Doherty on fraudulent insurance claims. Insurance industry must do more to reduce costs,” Flanagan tweeted.

Law Society of Ireland Director General Ken Murphy said: “Doherty is to be commended for devastatingly exposing the soaring super-profits insurance companies are enjoying.”

It is also clear that a primary source of false and misleading claims in this public debate is the insurance industry itself.

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