Williams wants UK to get tough like America and Ireland.

Britain should follow the example of Ireland and the USA and invest in advertising to combat insurance fraud, says David Williams, AXA’s managing director of claims.

Williams said he was alarmed by mounting losses from fraud.

According to ABI figures, fraudulent claims cost UK insurers £1.6bn last year – up from £1.5bn in 2003, despite better detection rates.

Williams believes advertising campaigns in Ireland and the USA have helped to stigmatise insurance fraud.

“They have been much more switched on as an industry; they have spent a lot of money on advertising,” he said.

Widespread insurance fraud in Ireland used to price motorists out of the market, according to Williams. “They had such a huge problem, a number of people were not able to afford insurance,” he said.

Williams wants company representatives on the ABI to push for a pool of money to combat fraud.

An ABI spokesman said members considered an advertising campaign about 18 months ago, but decided it was too expensive.

“The ABI is committed to tackling fraud. National advertising is expensive, and any generic advertising campaign is likely to have to be paid for through a levy on members,” said the spokesman.

“We keep this option open but, in the mean time, we are involved in a range of initiatives aimed at deterring potential fraudsters.

“These include supporting the Insurance Fraud Bureau, and using fraudulent claims data from members to highlight the increasing likelihood of insurance cheats getting caught.”