The decision by HBOS to pilot the Digilog voice stress analysis system (VSA) seems to have created a great deal of excitement, including a comment by the spokesman for Liberty, the human rights organisation, that it was "an invasion of people's privacy". Is this because August is a slow news month?

Voice stress analysis is nothing new. It is a technique that has been used by experienced claims investigators for years when they interview claimants face to face.

What is relatively new is that we now have computer software that can give an indication of stress levels.

What Digilog and other similar systems can do is to give the inexperienced claims handler another tool to help identify claims that need to be investigated thoroughly.

Any self-respecting insurer should not, even without voice stress analysis systems, be giving claims to loss adjusters willy-nilly for investigation.

They should already be employing a range of potential fraud indicators to allow them to focus in on those claims that are more likely than others to be fraudulent, thus maximising their chances of positively identifying fraud though the cost effective use of loss adjusters and investigators.

Our experience is that such insurers are likely to be twice as effective in positively identifying fraud as those who have no fraud indicator system in use.

David Berry of HBOS is quoted as saying: "We will hand loss adjusters cases on a plate." And David Brownsword as saying: "Loss adjusters will be very worried".

On both counts I disagree. Loss adjusters will still have to go and gather real evidence or admission of fraud before an insurer will repudiate a claim and they will

welcome being instructed on cases that have a higher chance of them being able to detect and stop fraud, rather than delaying the settlement of genuine claims while investigations are carried out. Or is HBOS going to turn down claims on the basis of Digilog alone? I somehow doubt it.

The Crawford spokesman is right. There continues to be the need for cost-effective face to face claims audit and investigation, something that we have been providing for insurers for over 20 years. In claims investigation, technology is an aid, not a complete answer.

Keith R Glover
Commercial director
Grosvenor Forensic Loss Adjusters

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