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Prof Ray Friel on Compensation Culture on Live 95FM

Professor Raymond Friel was a panellist on Limerick 95FM Today show with Joe Nash. The panel consisted of Conor Faughnan, of AA Ireland, Ger O’Neill, of O’Neill & Co Solicitors and Caroline O’Doherty, from the Irish Examiner.

He joined the discussion on the question of whether or not there is a ‘compo culture’ in Ireland with respect to insurance claims. Friel pointed out that a significant amount of insurance fraud arises in two distinct situations. First at the insurance proposal stage where customers fail to disclose facts such as penalty points for motor insurance or smoking habits for life insurance. Second, at the claim stage where people can often exaggerate the nature of their claim, for example claiming to suffer more pain than they really do, or claiming a higher value of stolen property.

Friel agreed with Joe Nash that both of these reflected a societal view that tolerated such fraud. On the other hand, Friel argued that this was why a robust legal mechanism in the insurance claim process was vital to ensure that injured parties were not over or under compensated. Friel also noted that while both the insurance companies and the lawyers each argued from their own narrow self-interest, objectively speaking it was right that both sides were able to represent those interests to the fullest and to have the difference adjudicated upon by the courts.

Finally, Friel agreed with Joe that the decision by an insurance company to defend a claim was as much motivated by a cost-benefit analysis rather than any principled decision. Friel pointed out that in Germany, insurance companies estimated about half of the claims on insurance policies for phones and tablets should not have been paid out but the cost of defending these claims was far greater than simply paying out on them.

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