Donna Scully, director at Carpenters Group discusses how the insurance industry can remain ahead of the curve with fraud as meetings and office work may never look the same again post-Covid-19
Just before the August holiday season, the second virtual Fraud Charter meeting took place. As we all get more used to virtual meetings and they become more effective, I do wonder whether we’ll ever return to the ‘old’ face-to-face format.
It was great to be joined by Edelle Michaels, the former detective chief inspector who was appointed head of the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) earlier this year. One of her main focuses will be to make IFED more proactive, less reactive and to share data more with the sector.
As the IFED develops its thinking about the emerging fraudulent threats from the Covid-19 pandemic, it looks as if she will be seeking even more collaboration with the sector, highlighting early identification of trends and trying to be ahead of the curve.
Stephen Dalton, head of intelligence and investigations at the Insurance Fraud Bureau, updated the group on the impacts of the pandemic and speculated about possible fraud developments. While there have been no major spikes yet, there have been lots of warning signals about the potential effect of Covid-19 and resulting financial hardship.
He highlighted a growth in Google scams, spoof advertising and aggressive marketing by the less reputable section of the claims market. He concurred that ghost broking is still an issue of concern and said that there was the potential for increased levels of fraud around physiotherapy treatment and employers’ liability claims.
The Fraud Charter group talked about the delays in court hearings and the huge backlog that will be faced post-Covid-19 if this is not addressed urgently. This will affect client settlements and insurers’ reserves.
It is prescient and welcome that parliament’s Justice Committee is to conduct an inquiry into this issue. Regrettably, the group had an increasing range of issues to discuss. ‘Crash for cash’ is very much still with us. With financial hardship likely to increase further as job losses mount and the furlough scheme ends, many more consumers may be ill-advisably tempted to make a dubious claim.
There was a consensus that claims from deaths in care homes caused by exposure to Covid-19 and possible negligence are likely to increase, many encouraged by claims farmers.
Although motor claims dropped dramatically during lockdown, with continued social distancing and concerns around returning to public transport it is anticipated that the number of claims will rise in the months ahead. The message from the group remains that the industry must stay vigilant to the rapidly changing threats from fraudulent behaviour and do all it can to educate customers.