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Taxi man hit on the double by insurance fraud

Denise McNamara

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A taxi driver had his insurance policy increased by 346% after a claim was lodged against him which was later found to be fraudulent.

Emeka Agbo received a renewal premium from his insurer, Liberty Insurance, in 2014 for a sum of €949.91. The first monthly payment of €79.16 was due on September 22.

In early October 2014, Mr. Agbo received a solicitor’s letter on behalf of a passenger who claimed he was in a road traffic accident while using Mr Agbo’s taxi.

Mr Agbo informed his insurers of the claim, which he could not understand given that he had not been involved in any road traffic accident.

It transpired that the claimant had travelled in his taxi two months before and appeared to be intoxicated. Before being left off at KFC at Briarhill, the man took photographs of the taxi driver, his identification and the vehicle with his camera phone. Mr Agbo reported the inicdent to the gardai and made a formal statement.

Liberty Insurance carried out their own investigation of the claim and a motor assessor confirmed that the taxi had not been involved in any road traffic accident.

The claims handler engaged by Liberty informed Mr Agbo that they deemed the claim fraudulent and were marking the file as such.

No claim has been submitted to the personal injuries board.

Liberty Insurance wrote to Mr Agbo in mid-October last year informing him that they were doubling his premium from €949.91 to €1873.86.

The father of two was then shocked to receive a renewal premium quote of €4233.62 in September 2015, representing an increase of 346%.

Independent Councillor James Charity said he is planning to lodge a complaint to the Financial Services Ombudsman on Mr Agbo’s behalf.

He is calling for regulations to be introduced which prevent insurance companies increasing premiums until the determination of a claim against the policy, as they were treating their premium holders as guilty until proven innocent.

“This is not the first time I have heard a complaint of insurance companies treating their premium holders as guilty until proven innocent but it certainly represents the largest single increase I have come across in these circumstances,” he said.

“It is clear that there is significant profiteering going on by some insurers who increase premiums in this manner without any payout on a claim and which claims are, in some cases, unjustified and without foundation.

“A premium of €4233.62, despite no successful claim on his policy ever having been made, is placing significant hurdles in the way of him earning a living and is, arguably, against EU Law and the European Charter on Human Rights.”

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City publican in heroic River Corrib rescue

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A city publican who last week helped save the life of a woman who had entered the waters of the Corrib off Wolfe Tone Bridge has made an appeal for young people to ‘look out for each other’.

Fergus McGinn, proprietor of McGinn’s Hop House in Woodquay, had been walking close to Jury’s Inn when he saw the young woman enter the river.

He then rushed to the riverbank on the Long Walk side of the bridge, jumped into the water, spoke to the woman and stayed with her until the emergency services arrived.

The incident occurred at about 3.45pm on Friday last, and a short time later the emergency services were on the scene to safely rescue the woman.

“She was lucky in that the river level was very low and she didn’t injure herself on the rocks and stones just under the water.”

He also appealed to the public to support in whatever they could the work being done by groups like the Claddagh Watch volunteers.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Pubs face court – for serving booze on their doorsteps!

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Gardaí have warned city publicans that alcohol cannot be served outside their own premises – even in newly-created on-street spaces designated by Galway City Council as suitable for outdoor dining.

Councillor Mike Crowe (FF) said three Gardaí visited a number of city centre pubs on Thursday afternoon informing them that drinking outdoors was not allowed under licensing laws.

“They warned publicans and restaurants that the area outside their premises is not covered by the licence, and therefore under national legislation, they are breaking the law, because they are not entitled to sell alcohol in non-licensed areas.

“The operators were told that this was an official warning, and they will be back again in a few days and if it persisted, they [Gardaí] would have no option but to issue a charge and forward files to the Director of Public Prosecution. You could not make this up.

“All of the big operators were visited, and received an official warning, and they will be charged if they persist. According to the guards, they’re getting instructions from [Garda headquarters in] Phoenix Park,” he said.

The matter will be raised at a meeting of the Galway City Joint Policing Committee on Monday.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Call for 50% affordable homes in new Galway City Council estates

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The next Galway City Development Plan should include a greater provision for affordable housing than that recommended by Government, a meeting of the City Council has heard.

Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) told the meeting that while it was the Government’s intention to introduce a stipulation that new estates should have 10% affordable housing, Galway should go further – building anything up to 50% affordable in developments that are led by the local authority.

The Affordable Housing Bill, which is currently working its way through the Oireachtas, proposes that all developments should have 10% affordable and 10% social housing as a condition of their approval.

Affordable housing schemes help lower-income households buy their own houses or apartments in new developments at significantly less than their open market value, while social housing is provided by local authorities and housing agencies to those who cannot afford their own accommodation.

The Council meeting, part of the pre-draft stage of forming the Development Plan to run from 2023 to 2029, was to examine the overarching strategies that will inform the draft plan to come before councillors by the end of the year and Cllr McDonnell said a more ambitious target for affordable housing was absolutely necessary.

“It must be included that at least 50% of housing must be affordable [in social housing developments],” he said.

This sentiment was echoed by Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) who questioned if the City Council was ‘tied down’ by national guidelines, or if it could increase the minimum percentage of affordable housing required locally.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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