Report follows recent ABI figures on fraud

Fraudulent claims have doubled in the first three months of this year as firms struggle in the recession, Allianz reports.

The insurer said it has turned away £5m worth of bogus claims up tp the end of March, compared with half that amount for the same period in 2008.

The figures back up claims by the ABI last week that companies have been trying to cheat the system since the financial crisis began last year.

The ABI reported there were 107,000 fraudulent claims in 2008, a 17% rise on 2007.

Some of the most frequently handled bogus claims include commercial arson with exaggerated business stock and personal injury claims against companies.

Roy Hebburn, Allianz divisional claims manager, said: “Small businesses should be aware that their employees and others – customers or even business associates – are facing economic hardship right now. As a result the temptation to commit insurance fraud is significantly greater.

“There has been a steep rise in the number of fraudulent personal injury claims detected by our claims teams involving slips and trips, and employees attempting to pass off, for example, sporting injuries as work-related.

“Businesses should make sure they keep their health and safety training regimes in place and keep a careful record of any personal injuries.”

Nick Starling, the ABI’s director of general insurance and health, commented: “Fraud thrives in a recession, so insurers are intensifying their crackdown on insurance cheats.

“Fraud adds an extra £40 a year to the average premium, which is why the harder we make it for the cheats, the more competitive premiums will be for honest customers. Cheating on your insurance really does not pay – you will get caught.”

Peter Taylor, who joined as head of fraud investigations at Davies last month, said that the loss adjuster had dealt with about 30% more cases in 2008 than it had in 2007.

Taylor, who previously worked for Cunninghams, said: “It is easy to say it is down to the recession but there are other factors, such as improved screening and people being more focused on fraud.”