Insurers rail against ‘extravagant’ loss-of-earnings claims

Insurance Ireland concerned by ‘unsupported claims’ to injuries board

Extravagant loss of earnings claims are being made to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, insurance companies have told the Government.

In a submission to the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Insurance Ireland, which represents the industry, said it was concerned by "unsupported claims" and the nonattendance of claimants at arranged medical examinations.

“Sometimes extravagant but unsupported claims are made, usually under the heading of ‘loss of earnings’,” according to Insurance Ireland, which said its members are regular and major users of the injuries board and legal system.

“This may be either in terms of amounts claimed which cannot be verified or for losses extending over a period of time far greater than would be supported by the independent medical evidence obtained by the injuries board.”

It said the board “usually declines to assess because of complexity of the issues”, with the claimant free to litigate.

Insurance Ireland proposed that the PIAB Acts should be amended where a claimant who is found to have “deliberately made unsustainable claims” in the course of its application “shall not be entitled to any order for legal costs in subsequent litigation”.

Hard to locate

The Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland noted in its submission that it is often difficult to locate uninsured and unidentified vehicles following collisions with just 90 days for the defendant to respond to an Injuries Board notice.

It can be very difficult and time-consuming to locate and deal with these drivers

“The [bureau] is responsible for compensating innocent victims of road accidents caused by uninsured and unidentified vehicles,” it said. “By definition, drivers of such vehicles are usually unco-operative and irresponsible, are often unrepentant and tend to hold their victims in contempt.

“It can be very difficult and time-consuming to locate and deal with these drivers and the three-month time frame permitted to respond to an Injuries Board formal notice can impose a very tight deadline for investigation.”

The bureau proposed that an extension to five months, or 150 days, to respond to the notice would be more suitable, “especially where there may be indications of suspicious accident circumstances”.

Axa Insurance’s submission included a proposal to create an online tracking system, whereby claimants and respondents could check the status of a claim at any time.

“It would be of considerable assistance if [the] Injuries Board were to notify insurers and respondents of the receipt of applications which are as yet incomplete,” it said.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times