The trade body’s figures also reveal a record-breaking claims value in oversea travel scams

Fraudulent claims fell by 10% between 2019 and 2020 to reach 96,000 – the lowest amount since 2007, according to ABI’s latest general insurance fraud figures.

These claims totalled £1.1bn, indicating a 4% dip in value between 2019 and 2020. However, the value of the average fraud detected increased by 6% - to £12,000 - over this same reporting period.

Fraud detection rates rose overall, according to the ABI, both in number (0.02%) and value (0.47%). 

Looking at the figures in further depth, insurers detected proportionately more motor insurance fraud last year than in 2019 – motor fraud cases fell by 6% between 2019 and 2020 to 55,000, while their value fell by 1% to £602m.

Property insurance fraud, meanwhile, fell by 10% over the reporting period, to 24,000 cases – with their value dropping 9% to £111m.

Following the same trajectory, liability insurance fraud cases dropped 18% in 2020 to 14,300 – their value also decreased 6%, down to £412m.

Mark Allen, chief fraud and financial crime officer at the ABI, said: “Insurers adapted very quickly to the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic, to protect and support their honest customers through the most difficult of times.

“Reflecting significantly fewer motor insurance claims last year during the lockdowns, it is no surprise to see a fall in detected frauds last year. Also having an impact have been the various support schemes from the government to help individuals and firms cope with financial hardship, which can ordinarily lead to increased insurance fraud.

“However, the rise in fraud detection rates shows that, however difficult the circumstances, insurers will continue to do all they can to crack down on fraud to protect their honest customers.

“As ’the new normal’ kicks in, the industry will remain vigilant against the fraud threat.”

Fertile ground for fraud

During the pandemic, travel claims focused on the cancellation and curtailment of travel. Considering overseas travel, there were 770 detected scams in 2020 – down 49% compared to 2019.

Overseas travel scams were valued at £1.8m – showing a 2% increase on 2019. This led to the highest recorded average claims value of £2,358.

Ben Fletcher, director at the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB), added: “The pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges for the counter fraud sector, but thanks to the industry’s collaborative efforts, insurance fraud has been prevented from rising as much as first predicted.

“Whilst we welcome this good news, we must not be complacent. The disruption caused by Covid-19 means many people continue to face economic hardship, which sadly provides fertile ground for fraud.

“Not only does insurance fraud push up everyone else’s premium costs, but some scams, such as deliberately caused collisions, can put innocent people at serious risk of harm.

“In these challenging times, it’s essential that the public continues to be vigilant and reports evidence of insurance scams to our confidential Cheatline, so we can work with the police to keep fraud down and protect consumers.”