National database targeting uninsured drivers to ‘go live’ by end of 2018

Gardaí testing new hand-held devices that read number plates to find uninsured drivers

Gardaí are expected to shortly begin using new hand-held devices to scan number plates, which will immediately find out whether a vehicle is insured, by the end of this year.

Gardaí are expected to shortly begin using new hand-held devices to scan number plates, which will immediately find out whether a vehicle is insured, by the end of this year.

 

A national database of all privately insured drivers, which seeks to target fraudulent insurance claims, is set to go live by the end of the year.

The driver database has been formulated using information provided by insurance firms and is expected to also be used as part of a new Garda scheme targeting uninsured drivers using hand-held devices to scan number plates.

The Garda system was recently trialed in the Limerick Garda District and was considered a success.

The data will be uploaded as part of the new Garda automatic number plate recognition system which is expected to begin in 2019.

Insurance companies have provided an Garda with lists of insured and uninsured vehicles based on the vehicle’s licence plate number and insurer’s name as part of a new database which will be used to identify uninsured drivers on Irish roads.

The database is designed to develop an understanding of how the cost of claims is affecting motor insurance premiums and is part of an overall strategy aimed at tackling spiralling costs.

The latest progress report from the Government’s Cost of Insurance working group, published this week, said it was awaiting a “go live” date for the new number plate recognition system following the enactment of the Road Traffic (Amendment) Act 2018 in July of this year.

Under the act, the wording “driver licence number” has been changed to “driver number” which can be used as a unique identifier, according to the report.

The Department of Transport has said it expects “a full rollout” of the new information database to identify uninsured vehicles by the end of 2018 once the electronic link to transfer data from the insurance industry to the guards has taken place. It confirmed that 90 per cent of privately insured drivers had already been included in the database.

The latest move to track down uninsured drivers follows the findings of the second and final Personal Injuries Commission which revealed last week the average compensation award for whiplash injuries in Ireland is approximately 4.4 times higher than in Britain.

AA Ireland has said more than €100 could be knocked off the average cost of a motor insurance policy if measures aimed at tackling fraud and legal costs were implemented. The insurance broker criticised the Government for failing to address the crisis of high-cost premiums and warned that costs remained far higher than they should be because Government attention towards the issue had wavered.

Last month Fianna Fáil jobs, enterprise and innovation spokesman Billy Kelleher said that any insurance claim that was dismissed in court as fraudulent should be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Speaking as he introduced his Civil Liability and Courts (Amendment) Bill to ensure prosecution of insurance fraudsters, Mr Kelleher underlined that there had never been a prosecution in Ireland of anyone whose insurance claim had been proven in court as fraudulent.

Motor insurance claims to the The Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) fell by 8 per cent in the first seven months of 2018, a drop attributed to a decision by insurers last year to forward suspicious claims to the Garda.

The MIBI said the decline in claims was due to the introduction of anti-fraud measures last year that included the forwarding of potentially fraudulent claims to the Garda. The decision came after the body said that up to one in eight insurance claims being submitted were “suspicious”.

Providing false or misleading information on a motor claim is considered a crime, and those convicted of the offence face up to 10 years in prison or a €100,000 fine. However, the MIBI has said in the past that it is often very difficult to prove an allegation of insurance fraud within the Irish legal system.

The organisation typically pays out between €55 million to €60 million a year in insurance payments, with fraudulent claims adding on average an additional €30 to €35 to the cost of policies.

This article was amended on November 13th to reflect the fact that the hand-held devices will not be in use by the end of 2018.