Irish Claims Event – London 2017 Media Coverage

London underwriters and brokers told changes to Irish claims laws are cutting down on fraud and the rising levels of awards, but more needs to be done.

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Underwriters and brokers have been told changes to Irish claims laws are cutting down on fraud and the rising levels of awards, but more needs to be done.
At a packed seminar in the Old Library at Lloyd’s, the chairman of Ireland’s Personal Injuries Commission, Mr Justice Nicolas Kearns, said the issue remained over access to data under the country’s data protection laws.
“There have been moves to set up a data repository of uninsured drivers but it is moving slowly,” he said. “The view from the government is that any repository would need to be under the control of a public body, in this case the police rather than the insurance industry which does bot bode well.
We need to see better sharing of data in Ireland. Telematics for instance, in vehicles is seen as available to all parties in the UK but it is not the case in Ireland.”
However, he added that knowing about the problem was the first step in developing a solution, “we need clarification of data protection rules and it may require a change in the law.”

He said that Ireland remained behind the curve compared to the UK but that the revised Book of Quantum for accident damages was a step forward for insurers and their policyholders.
The Lloyd’s event was co-hosted by Dublin law firm O’Brien Lynam Solicitors, and Cork-based MDM Solicitors.
Jack O’Brien, Partner at O’Brien Lynam told the seminar that the new book of quantum and the Irish Court of appeal had created a “pincer movement on claimants and the costs of claims.”

“Ireland is seen as a positive place to do business and attractive to insurers,” he added. “Brexit has not been welcomed in Ireland and the concern for many is that the other EU countries will seek to punish the UK and that negative impact will be felt in Ireland given the close relationship between our two countries.”
Carrie McDermott, Partner at MDM said the defence lawyers were still wrestling with the implementation of Section 26 of Irish claims legislation which provided a defence if the plaintiff had provided false information in their statement of evidence.
While initially the defence lawyers viewed every case as potentially a defence using Section 26, the Irish courts had handed down a number of verdicts which added a degree of discretion to plaintiffs if they were deemed to be honest and believable in the witness box, despite evidence that countered their claims.
McDermott said estimates put the cost of fraudulent insurance claims in Ireland at E200m annually.
“It can be a high bar and it can be difficult to reach the level of proof to meet the requirements for a section 26 defence,” she added. “Fraud will always warrant a section 26 defence but exaggeration is a different question and it has to be asked whether the exaggeration is such that it warrants it”
Mr Justice Kearns said “I do not see exaggerated claims being any different to fraudulent claims.”

“It’s very rare that a presentation is done by the calibre of individuals as this panel. Would like to thank Justice Kearns, Jack, David, Carrie and the LMA for organising such an event”

Doug Humberstone

London underwriters and brokers told changes to Irish claims laws are cutting down on fraud and the rising levels of awards, but more needs to be done.

Underwriters and brokers have been told changes to Irish claims laws are cutting down on fraud and the rising levels of awards, but more needs to be done.
At a packed seminar in the Old Library at Lloyd’s, the chairman of Ireland’s Personal Injuries Commission, Mr Justice Nicolas Kearns, said the issue remained over access to data under the country’s data protection laws.
“There have been moves to set up a data repository of uninsured drivers but it is moving slowly,” he said. “The view from the government is that any repository would need to be under the control of a public body, in this case the police rather than the insurance industry which does bot bode well.
We need to see better sharing of data in Ireland. Telematics for instance, in vehicles is seen as available to all parties in the UK but it is not the case in Ireland.”
However, he added that knowing about the problem was the first step in developing a solution, “we need clarification of data protection rules and it may require a change in the law.”
He said that Ireland remained behind the curve compared to the UK but that the revised Book of Quantum for accident damages was a step forward for insurers and their policyholders.
The Lloyd’s event was co-hosted by Dublin law firm O’Brien Lynam Solicitors, and Cork-based MDM Solicitors.
Jack O’Brien, Partner at O’Brien Lynam told the seminar that the new book of quantum and the Irish Court of appeal had created a “pincer movement on claimants and the costs of claims.”.

Irish PI compensation changes a ‘major step forward for the market’

Guideline changes to personal injury lawsuit compensation in the Republic of Ireland is a “major step forward for the market,” one of the country’s top lawyers has said.

Speaking at a Lloyd’s market briefing, Jack O’Brien, partner at O’Brien Lynam, said changes made to the Book of Quantum deliver “a degree of certainty” for claims managers and insurers on the level of awards that will be made in a case regarding personal injury claims.

Changes to the Book of Quantum, a book that Ireland’s courts have a statutory requirement to refer to when assessing damages for injuries, introduces new injuries as well as including additional classifications of severity of injury.

The briefing, Ireland Claims Awards What’s Next? comes as UK insurers reel from the decision by the UK Government torevise the discount rates for personal injury claims.

Jack O’Brien said: “August 2016 saw the publication of the revised Book of Quantum for Ireland to provide guidelines on the award of personal injury.

“Without doubt it is a major step forward for the market when taken in context with the significant changes and effects that have been placed on the Irish market over the past 15 years.

“During that period Ireland, has seen the advent of the Euro, and in 2003 the establishment of the Injuries Board followed a year later by the first book of quantum, and then the establishment of the Irish Court of Appeal, coupled with the economic crisis.

“All have had their own impact in shaping the current insurance claims environment in Ireland and provided challenges for the London market and other insurers operating in the country.”

O’Brien added: “Over the past two to three years we have seen the Court of Appeal taking a more conservative approach to the awards that have been made in the high court with some high-profile cases seeing those awards reduced considerably on appeal.

“It has had the effect of making circuit and high court judges think harder about the level of the awards they are prepared to make given the Appeal Court’s approach.
“What the revised book of quantum delivers is a degree of certainty for claims managers and insurers on the level of awards that will be made.”

The updated guidelines, coupled with the emergence of an effective Appeal Court will serve as a boon for insurers in clamping down on fraudulent and over exaggerated personal injury rewards.

“With the Book of Quantum on the one hand, and an effective Court of Appeal on the other, we have the ability to form a pincer movement to tackle the exaggerated costs associated with personal injury claims,” said O’Brien.

Ryan Hewlett

March 2017

“Ireland is seen as a positive place to do business and attractive to insurers,” he added. “Brexit has not been welcomed in Ireland and the concern for many is that the other EU countries will seek to punish the UK and that negative impact will be felt in Ireland given the close relationship between our two countries.”
Carrie McDermott, Partner at MDM said the defence lawyers were still wrestling with the implementation of Section 26 of Irish claims legislation which provided a defence if the plaintiff had provided false information in their statement of evidence.
While initially the defence lawyers viewed every case as potentially a defence using Section 26, the Irish courts had handed down a number of verdicts which added a degree of discretion to plaintiffs if they were deemed to be honest and believable in the witness box, despite evidence that countered their claims.
McDermott said estimates put the cost of fraudulent insurance claims in Ireland at E200m annually.
“It can be a high bar and it can be difficult to reach the level of proof to meet the requirements for a section 26 defence,” she added. “Fraud will always warrant a section 26 defence but exaggeration is a different question and it has to be asked whether the exaggeration is such that it warrants it”
Mr Justice Kearns said “I do not see exaggerated claims being any different to fraudulent claims.”

Insurers must fight fraud in the courtroom : Justice Kearns

Insurers must fight back against exaggerated and fraudulent personal injury claims in court, the chairman of Ireland’s Personal Injury Commission has said.

Justice Nicolas Kearns, a former president of the Irish High Court and a member of the Council of State, said there is an unwillingness for insurance companies to fight fraudulent claims in court, and failure to do so only exacerbates the problem.

“There is an apparent unwillingness of insurance companies to stand up in court and fight back. Why don’t they fight back? So many of these fraudulent claims are so easy to exploit,” said Kearns.

“What has been happening in recent years is that a decision is taken at some level where by it is easier to throw €10,000 to €15,000 at a claim to make it go away rather spending three days in court to win the case, receive and order of costs that the insurer will never be able to collect, and then end up with a much bigger bill then they would have had to deal with originally.

“This only makes the problem worse. It encourages a culture amongst a very small minority of lawyers and solicitors to milk the system and to build false claims.”

Speaking at a London market briefing, Ireland Claims Awards What’s Next?, Kearns said that the Irish claims environment has been typified by a very “significant jump” in insurance premium prices in the Republic of Ireland.

“Insurance prices overall have increased by 56% in Ireland since 2011, motor insurance prices have risen 66% in the same period and by 25% in the 12 months to September last year. You don’t need to be Einstein to work out that something has got to give. It is clear that this cannot go on,” Kearns said.

“All of this is happening against a backdrop of runaway awards and absence of any coherent approach to the measurement of damages.”

This increase in premiums and the issue of lack of coherency are two of the issues under focus of Ireland’s Personal Injury Commission.

Kearns is chairman of the commission, a body set up to offer guidance on compensation claims and investigate and make recommendations on processes in other jurisdictions, which could enhance the claims process in Ireland.

This will include the commissioning of medical research, benchmarking of international awards for personal injury cases, analysing and reporting on international compensation levels, as well as compensation mechanisms.

Ryan Hewlett

March 2017

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