In both cases, claimants were exposed using information they had shared on Facebook.
Motor insurance premiums have shot up 30% in Ireland in the last year, partly blamed on the rise in fraud. AA Ireland and member association, Insurance Ireland, which represents 95% of the domestic market, said that there were signs judges are not hesitating to throw out spurious claims.
Last week in Dublin, FBD Insurance brought to court David Ward and Lynsey Ivory, who staged a car crash to help pay for their wedding – while pretending to be strangers. They were discovered when the insurance company saw that they appeared in each other’s Facebook profile pictures
David Ward was jailed for a year. Lyndsey Ivory, who is now his wife, was given a suspended sentence.
Also in Dublin, this week a €60,000 court claim collapsed when waitress Rita Milinovic, who claimed to have suffered severe injuries from a car crash was found to have posted pictures of herself on Facebook after she climbed to the top of Bray Head, and shots of her posing at a body sculpture competition.
The judge said the woman was a “very fine specimen of human fitness” and dismissed the claim and awarded costs against her.
According to reports in the Irish Independent there have been a number of other cases recently where false and exaggerated claims were thrown out by the courts; in Cork last month a man was jailed for a year and six people received suspended sentences for staging car crashes to make fraudulent insurance claims.
Chief executive of Insurance Ireland Kevin Thompson said the two recent high-profile cases showed judges were taking a hard line. He said the two recent cases showed that Facebook was proving to be the honest driver’s best friend:
“The judiciary are taking a tough approach when dealing with spurious claims, which is to be welcomed.”
AA Ireland’s Conor Faughnan said people who lie or exaggerate claims should not only lose cases and face having to pay legal costs, they should also be prosecuted for perjury. He called on insurers and the legal profession to do more to challenge questionable claims.
He told the Irish Independent:
“We are a soft touch for soft-tissue injuries in this country.”
Mr Faughnan said part of the problem was that insurers often settle claims before they go to court in a bid to avoid losing and having to make big payments. Insurers need to do more to weed out spurious claims, he added.