Insurance industry hit by £1.6bn yearly fraud bill.

The ABI has called on the insurance industry to work with government and other organisations to tackle spiralling levels of fraud as the recession hits.

According to association figures, fraud costs the country more than £20bn a year – or £600 a second.

Speaking at an international fraud conference in London on Tuesday, Nick Starling, the ABI’s director of general insurance, said: “Fraud thrives in times of adversity. Insurance fraud alone costs £1.6bn a year, adding £40 a year to the premiums paid by honest customers.

“When budgets are tight, the temptation to cheat is too much for some.

“Insurers are stepping up their vigilance against fraud to protect honest customers,” he said.

“The recently launched National Fraud Strategic Authority has a vital role to play in tackling this problem.

“It must be the focal point of a new and co-ordinated approach, bringing together all the various organisations hit by fraud, including government and insurers, to increase detection, deter potential cheats and protect the honest.”

The National Fraud Strategic Authority, now in a pilot stage, is a government project to improve fraud reporting.

The body will also set national priorities for fighting fraud.