Insurance Ireland says it's up to the Government "to decide when and how this will happen"

The insurance industry is pledging to fund a new Garda unit to investigate insurance fraud.

The dedicated section, which would cost €1 million a year to run, would operate independent of the insurance sector.

It would aim to crack down on bogus claims, as part of efforts towards achieving a drop in premiums for motorists.

Motor insurance groups have previously claimed as many as one-in-eight claims it sees are 'suspicious'.

Closer cooperation between the insurance industry and gardaí was one of the recommendations of the 'cost of insurance' working group report to the Government.

CEO of Insurance Ireland Kevin Thompson says companies have agreed to fund a fraud unit.

He explained: "We consulted with our members. We looked at a similar initiative which has been in operation in the UK since 2012.

"We looked at how they went about it; we took high-level costings from An Garda Síochana; and we were pleased to confirm to Government in our letter recently to them that we were happy to support the funding of this initiative."

He stressed that it's now up to the Government "to decide when and how this will happen".

The Alliance for Insurance Reform - a group looking to drive down insurance costs in Ireland - welcomed the proposal.

The alliance's Peter Boland said: "In particular, we note that the new fraud group will be funded by insurers but will be operationally independent of them. This is right and proper and will mean that there should be no barriers to the urgent establishment of the unit."