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Conning big - crackdown on insurance cheats delivering results, but average scam up to nearly £15,000

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  • A fraudster who stood to pocket £75,000 in a travel insurance scam, and £50,000 made by selling fake motor insurance cover, among frauds uncovered.

There will be no let-up in cracking down on insurance fraud, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) warned today, as latest figures out today show a fall in insurance scams uncovered last year.

Despite a 19% drop in the number of fraudulent insurance claims uncovered last year, because their value fell at a lower rate, the value of the average scam increased to £15,000, up 20% on 2021.     

Key findings from our latest figures on detected insurance frauds show that, in 2022:    

The total number of fraudulent claims detected fell by 19% on 2021 to 72,600 cases. Of these, the number of opportunistic frauds decreased by 18% to 63,000 cases. While this suggests that the industry’s warnings about the grave consequences of committing fraud may be deterring some people, the drop in volume has to be viewed in the context of market developments. In particular, there has been a 20% fall in the volume of fraudulent personal injury claims, largely as a result of the Official Injury Claim (OIC) portal reducing the overall number of small personal injury claims being made. This reflects the government’s aim of introducing a simplified, fairer, more efficient, and cost-effective compensation system. 

Motor insurance continues to make up the largest volume of fraud cases at 42,500, representing 59% of total insurance claims fraud.  

While the volume of claims fraud fell significantly, the total value of claims fraud fell by just 4%, with the value of opportunistic fraud increasing by 2%, with a total cost to the industry of £1.1billion.  The average fraud, rose to a record £15,000, up 20% compared to 2021. This in part reflects the rise in the value of property frauds, which rose to £134m, up 8% on 2021, and higher inflation.     

 Case studies of some of the cheats exposed.    

  • Travelling to prison. A man was jailed for 16 months for making 15 bogus travel insurance claims valued at £75,000, using the identities of people he knew.   
  • Mis- management leads to jail. A fraudster was jailed for four years, as a result of him cloning the identity of a claims management company to arrange over 60 false motor insurance claims, worth £26,000   
  • Ghost broker con very real. A London man stood to pocket £50,000 by acting as an illegal insurance intermediary (known as a ghost broker) and selling fake motor insurance.    
  • No petty scam. An employee at a veterinary practice was caught claiming over £37,000 in fraudulent pet insurance claims. The woman took out pet insurance policies with six insurers and made a total of 18 fraudulent claims against them over four years. In most cases, she made up the names and breeds of the animals that she had taken out the policies for. She altered invoices for medical treatment that the practice had sent to genuine clients, so that they appeared to have been issued to her and submitted them to the insurers to evidence her claims.   
  • Left feeling sick after medical scam. A man was jailed for making bogus medical claims worth £24,000 against 3 insurers. These involved submitting fake receipts for non-existent medical treatments.   

Mark Allen, the ABI’s Assistant Director, Head of Fraud and Financial Crime, said:

“While it is good to see the industry’s collaborative efforts delivered results in 2022, there can be no room for complacency.  With many households and businesses continuing to face rising costs, now more than ever honest customers expect insurers to weed out the cheats and focus on paying genuine claims as quickly as possible.   

“Fraud is now the most reported crime in England and Wales. As financial hardship increases, previously honest customers could be tempted to ‘act in the moment’ to exaggerate claims. These latest figures highlight that some fraudsters are aiming big, with some large frauds uncovered. This shows why there can be absolutely no let-up in pursuing insurance fraudsters. Honest customers rightly expect nothing less. It is also important that consumers remain vigilant to potential scams. The golden rule is never act in haste – if a deal appears too good to be true, then it probably is. If you suspect a fraud has been committed, you can report it confidentially to the IFB’s CheatLine on 0800 422 0421”    

Detective Chief Inspector Tom Hill, from the City of London Police's Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED), said:  

"Whilst it is positive to see that detected insurance fraud rates fell in 2022, the increase in the average value of fraud shows that both IFED and the insurance industry cannot afford to take our foot off the pedal when it comes to uncovering and disrupting fraudsters."  

"Insurance fraud is never simply taking money from a company that can afford it. Many victims of insurance fraud are members of the public, from people who have their identities stolen to help facilitate fraud, to people who have unknowingly bought fake motor insurance from ghost brokers."  

Ursula Jallow, Director at the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB), said:  

“ABI’s new figures show that our determined efforts to prevent fraud are clearly making an impact, but we can’t let our guard down now. Insurance scams are widespread across the UK, and fraudsters are using increasingly sophisticated tactics to prey on vulnerable people and businesses.  

"We're committed to our collaboration with insurers, police and government, to help bring all fraudsters to justice. The consequences are serious. Those who deliberately lie on an insurance application or claim will be put on the Insurance Fraud Register (IFR), which can deny them access to essential insurance services for years to come. Fraudsters also face a potential criminal conviction and imprisonment.” 

For more information please contact  ABI Press Office. 

Last updated 24/08/2023