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dodgy claims New centralised Garda unit launched to tackle insurance fraudsters

The creation of the new unit is expected to be a massive deterrent to anyone considering making a fictitious or exaggerated claim

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Insurance policyholders who suspect they are the victim of a fraudulent claim will be able to report their suspicions directly to gardaí with the launch next month of a new centralised Garda unit to tackle bogus claims.

Insurance companies have long been accused of not doing enough to tackle fraud, and reported just 48 suspected bogus claims to gardaí last year, down from 63 the previous year.

They are prepared to tolerate it as they often settle cases and pass on the cost to policyholders, campaigners claim.

The creation of the new unit is expected to be a deterrent to anyone considering making a fictitious or exaggerated claim.

The new Insurance Fraud Co-ordination Office (IFCO) will be under the control of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB), the Herald has learned.

Having the new unit will mean policyholders who suspect a dodgy claim has been made against them will be able to report this directly to gardaí instead of relying on the insurer to report it.

The hope is that it will lead to lower premiums, with Justice Minister Heather Humphreys expected to announce today that the new IFCO will be operational by mid-September.

Insurers have blamed soaring premiums and a reluctance to insure businesses with high footfall on fraudulent claims and high injury payouts.

The new unit will see the GNECB having an overarching role in the fight against false claims.

The idea is to have the bureau vet and assess all ­suspected fraudulent claims.

It will investigate the bigger crimes, with others being sent to the local divisions to be investigated.

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Previously, a number of solicitors and one GP have been arrested in relation to insurance fraud.

The new unit comes after new perjury legislation was passed.

The legislation means insurance scammers will now face up to 10 years in jail and a €100,000 fine.

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