’Honest customers rightly expect insurers to clamp down on insurance fraud,’ says head of fraud and financial crime

More than £200,000 worth of opportunistic insurance fraud claims were investigated by detectives in the space of just two months across 2023, the City of London Police has revealed.

A statement released yesterday (5 April 2023) said its Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (Ifed) investigated 18 incidents across the country during February and March this year.

This amounted to an estimated value of £216,875.

Opportunistic insurance fraud occurs when somebody knowingly submits a false claim or takes advantage of an otherwise legitimate situation to exaggerate a claim for monetary gain.

A recent investigation by Ifed saw a man from Southampton sentenced after he deliberately deflated a boat and submitted a claim for accidental damage, worth £6,629, to Zurich.

The man claimed that the boat had deflated on the River Hamble after he steered left to avoid colliding with an oncoming yacht and crashed into another vessel.

An assessor from Zurich inspected the boat and concluded the damage was not consistent with that of a collision.

Mark Allen, head of fraud and financial crime at the ABI, said: “Insurers recognise that many households are still battling the cost of living crisis and strive to pay legitimate claims as soon as possible.

“But, honest customers rightly expect insurers to clamp down on insurance fraud.”

‘Lasting impact’

In 2022, the number of referrals for opportunistic claims received by Ifed increased by 82% from the previous year.

It said increased cost of living pressures could have contributed to a rise in fraudulent claims.

And during February and March 2023, Ifed officers executed warrants in Berkshire, Peterborough and Portsmouth.

The Ifed also arrested two people, with the Crown Prosecution Service authorising charges against four other people suspected to have made fraudulent claims.

Ifed detective chief inspector Tom Hill said: “We understand that the rising cost of living has presented challenges for many people across the country – but turning to crime is never the answer.

“Sadly, over the past year, we have seen an uptick in opportunistic claims, from people exploiting legitimate road traffic accidents to submitting bogus claims for high-value jewellery.

“Fraudulent claims drive up the cost of insurance for everyone, meaning that honest policyholders end up paying the price.

”As well as this, making a false claim could land you with a criminal record. It may seem like a chance worth taking, but the consequences could have a lasting impact on your life.”