Key industry figures took to the stage to offer their thoughts on property claim fraud
The Home Office is now setting up the system to let insurers recoup some of the claims from the recent rioting, according to ABI assistant director of motor and liability James Dalton.
The first priority of the industry had been to get information out to consumers about making a claim, he said.
The ABI then helped the government and Home Office set up a scheme for uninsured people to claim under the Riot Damages Act 1886, Dalton added.
“We always learn from surge events like escape of water or flooding, but the riots really demonstrated for me that the industry responded really well in terms making sure that people were sending out coherent messages to media and politicians,” he said.
Apart from riot issues, another big project for the ABI was tackling escape of water, Dalton said.
“We’re doing quite a lot of work in the lead up to
winter to do a publicity campaign targeting consumers to make sure they know how to deal with things like frozen pipes,” he added.
The recession has sparked trends in claims, according to AXA head of property claims Martin Ashfield.
AXA had noticed an increase in customers being unable to back up the value of claims with hard evidence, he said, as well as a trend towards false documents when making claims.
One recent claimant said the loss of electronic equipment set him back £60, but the customer then submitted an invoice claiming the value was £600. “It was so basic and so naïve, but I think it shows the desperation going on with some people.”
AXA had also noticed an increase in personal accident and sickness claims fraud, he said, with some customers not immediately telling the insurer when they had returned to paid employment after making such a claim.
“It’s a wider fraud that one, because those people very often receive state benefits as well, so there’s a fraud of the public purse going on at the same time,” he said.
The industry response to fraud should focus on two areas, according to Ashfield. The first is the improved detection of fraud, and the second is to widen the use of the Insurance Fraud Bureau for collecting and sharing data on fraud.
Loss adjusters should be careful not to cut corners when dealing with the increased stress of a surge event such as rioting, said Merlin Claims client development director Alex Kilpatrick.
“When these things hit, the pressure is to get out there quickly and get things settled,” he said. “Sometimes corners are cut.”
Keeping standard claims moving was another problem when dealing with soaring numbers of claims from a surge event, he said. “Frankly, if I’m a customer and somebody has stolen something from my house, I don’t really care that pipes are bursting all over the country, and I think often that’s something that’s forgotten,” he said.
But, during the August disturbances, many loss adjusters benefited from having members of staff that had dealt with rioting in the 1980s, said Kilpatrick.
Another issue with surge events was the pressure on loss adjusting staff, he said.
“Burnout of people in the field, it can happen, and we have a responsibility as employers to make sure we have something in place.”