It could be ‘curtains for fraudsters’ under new personal injury rules

it could be ‘curtains for fraudsters’ under new personal injury rules

Minister of State Dara Calleary said it is the second phase of changes geared toward making PIAB operate more effectively. Photo: PA/Damien Storan

Major changes are being introduced to the personal injuries system which should lead to a significant reduction in fraudulent claims.

The changes, which are due within three months, will make the personal-injury-claims process more robust and much less vulnerable to fraudulent claims.

The operating procedures of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) are being tightened up after years of debate about combating cheats.

Provisions contained in the Personal Injuries Resolution Board Act 2022 mean that, from the autumn, people who apply to PIAB will need to supply a Personal Public Service number or alternative identification. This will make it very difficult for con artists to use an alias or bogus identity.

It also means the Department of Social Protection may be able to recover some illness-related social welfare payments from any PIAB compensation payout.

All claimants will also be required to sign the application form to PIAB. This means they will leave a signed paper trail if they submit a fraudulent claim.

Peter Boland of the Alliance for Insurance Reform said the changes coming into effect in September should stop people “gaming” the system.

PIAB is a state body that adjudicates claims without involving courts.

All personal-injuries claims have to go before the board initially, with the exception of medical negligence cases.

Cases can only go to the courts if a settlement offer is rejected by either side.

Another change will mean a claimant may run out of time under the statute of limitations if they seek to frustrate the PIAB assessment process by withholding medical reports.

One of the tactics used by those making dodgy claims has been to withhold a medical report. This often means an assessment has to be made by the PIAB in the absence of a medical report as there are time limits for the board on how long it can take to assess a claim.

“The changes could mean it is curtains for fraudsters,” said Mr Boland.

This is because they will struggle to use an alias or bogus identity. They will leave a signed paper trail if they submit a fraudulent claim.

“We welcome the commencement of these further measures, which will make the Irish personal-injury-claims process more robust and much less vulnerable to fraudulent claims,” he added.

“Already, the number of fraudulent claims being submitted to the specialist unit at An Garda Síochána is well down on 2019 levels, and it is up to insurers to pass on the benefits of these new developments as soon as they come into force.”

Minister of State Dara Calleary said the adjustments are the second phase of changes geared toward making PIAB operate more effectively.

Central Bank research has shown that compensation levels are similar for those who go through PIAB and those who use litigation to settle their claims.

But the legal costs for a litigated claim average €17,813.

This compares with legal costs of just €1,156 for those using the PIAB process.

Mr Calleary said: “The second phase will further strengthen the PIAB process and reduce the potential for identity fraud and ensure accuracy in relation to payment of resolved claims.”

He intends to commence the third and final phase of the act, relating to the introduction of a mediation service, before the end of the year.

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