’Turning to crime is never the answer,’ says detective chief inspector

Zurich UK foiled £71.5m worth of fraud in 2022 as the insurer said cost of living challenges spurred a surge in bogus claims.

The business detected a 31% increase in fraudulent property claims during the year and a 7% rise in fake casualty claims, it said in a statement today (31 March 2023).

The false claims Zurich UK received included a woman claiming to have suffered injuries from a fall due to poorly stitched shoes, when in fact the injury had been sustained four months before the alleged incident.

Meanwhile, a man who claimed to catch chickens for a living was ordered to pay £17,000 when his fraudulent claim that he tripped on a raised water cover came home to roost.

Overall, Zurich UK prevented some 3,460 fraudulent claims last year, worth roughly £20,000 per claim – this averaged £195,890 a day.

A spokesperson told Insurance Times that the financial impact and subsequent cost of living is thought to be the dominant factor behind the significant upstick in fraud.

The insurer also explained it had invested in new software to uncover fraudsters who attempt to hide their identity by providing false name or address details.

It also launched real-time fraud checks in 2022 in a bid to help speed up the claims handling process.

Scott Clayton, head of claims fraud at Zurich, said: “Fraudsters are continually evolving in their methods, but so are we.

“We now have more tools in our arsenal to detect fraud than ever before.

“Fraudulent claimants should be aware of the real-world consequences of their actions, which can include criminal prosecution and prison sentences for those caught.”

‘Drives up premium’

Zurich UK said the Insurance Fraud Bureau saw a 17% increase in names added to its register of fraudsters in the 12 months to July last year.

The insurer highlighted that among incidents in 2022 included a police officer who felt the strong arm of the law after being caught fabricating a claim for two stolen bikes.

Detective chief inspector (DCI) Tom Hill, from the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department, said that while the cost of living had presented challenges, “turning to crime is never the answer”.

“Exaggerating or fabricating a claim may seem like a quick way to make money, but a conviction will have a lasting impact on your life,” he said.

Meanwhile, Zurich’s data revealed a 20% drop in motor fraud due to a reduction in false whiplash claims.

However, it reported a continued increase in organised motor fraud and bent metal claims.

Hill added: “Submitting a bogus insurance claim may seem like a victimless crime, but it in fact drives up the cost of premiums for everyone.

“As well as this, it could land you with a criminal record.”