No. XXXV (2013)

Insurance fraud (article 298 Penal Code) in judiciary practice

Konrad Buczkowski
Institute of Law Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Department of Criminology

Published 2013-01-01


  • insurance fraud

How to Cite

Buczkowski, K. (2013). Insurance fraud (article 298 Penal Code) in judiciary practice. Archives of Criminology, (XXXV), 213–246.


The insurance market is the area of business where fraud is attempted most frequently. Most painful to insurers are undue claims filed for damages under insurance contracts. Insurance related crimes are socially accepted, hence not condemned within a community. Despite their considerably harmful social potential, they are not sufficiently prosecuted, which partly stems from the conduct of insurance companies, who – in consideration of their positive image – are not eager to admit that they have fallen victims to fraud. This article presents a broad analysis of statistical data on the crime under Article 298 of the Penal Code and presents results of research on pretrial proceedings and cases concluding with court verdict ruling against the perpetrator of an insurance fraud. An analysis of the statistical data showed a significant decrease (since 2007) in the number of proceedings instigated under Article 298 Penal Code. The reason behind this phe-nomenon may be that this type of acts are classified as crime under Article 286 Penal Code, i.e. 'classic' fraud. Generally speaking, proceedings instigated under Article 298 Penal Code have accounted for a very low percentage of all proceedings over the entire decade – 0.02%. The aim of the criminological research presented in the article was to show the practical side of protecting the insurance market against fraudulent conduct of insured parties; also to attempt to find out if the penal regulation is appropriate, if prosecution under Article 298 Penal Code is correct, and finally, if any changes: be them legislative, to prosecution or penal policies, are necessary to provide effective protection for the insurance industry. In the file research conducted, the key assumption was to cover a possibly largest group of events defined as insurance fraud. In stage 1 of the research, the proceedings included all those conducted between 1995 – 2003 under Article 4 of the Trade Protection Act of 12.10.1994 and under Article 298 Penal Code (the Penal Code, as of the day of its enforce-ment, i.e. 1st Sept. 1998, invalidated the relevant provision of the aforesaid Act). As stage 2, court proceedings conducted in 2008 were examined, i.e. five years after completion of the core stage of the research. The aim of stage 2 analysis was to compare and define changes in insurance fraud prosecution policies and manners in which the fraud was committed. The results show that the prospects for rendering the provisions of Article 298 Penal Code useful in providing a penal framework in the Polish law system for dealing with 'specialised' crimes, aiming at protection of the insurance industry, have proven unrealistic. The regulations concerning the offence in question did not become the main tool for countering undue claims of property insurance, including vehicle insurance.


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