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Everything you need to know about insurance fraud

  • What is fraud?
  • How you can ensure you don’t accidentally commit fraud
  • What LV= is doing to tackle fraud 

At LV=, tackling insurance fraud is one of our greatest challenges – and our most important. Because we put our customers at the heart of everything we do, it’s essential that we work together to prevent fraud and stop criminals in their tracks to help stop your premiums rising. 

“LV= takes fraud very seriously,” says Simon Roylance, LV=’s Claims Crime Prevention Team Manager. 

“Whether that’s false insurance claims or people deliberately providing false information to lower their premium, we will always take action against fraudsters to protect the premiums and rights of our honest customers.”

But insurance fraud can seem complicated and confusing. So what actually defines fraud, and how can you avoid committing it, or being a victim of it?

What is insurance fraud?

Insurance fraud includes withholding information from your insurer. This could be anything from your occupation and correct age to motoring convictions or other issues. Whether withholding this information was intentional or not, it could invalidate your cover. This means if you make a claim, your insurance company may not pay. 

But regardless of if you accidentally forget to tell your insurer something or you did it on purpose, the consequences can be severe.

Claims fraud 

As well as your cover being invalid, you could face fines or prosecution. It’s now common to hear about, and read in the news, the latest person or criminal gang being prosecuted for committing claims fraud. One recent trial was the result of a two-year long investigation between LV= and Keogh’s. 

How can I make sure I don’t unintentionally commit fraud?

Honesty is the best policy. When you buy insurance, answer all questions as honestly and accurately as you can. If in doubt, make a note to check and call your insurer back to clarify any details. Don’t forget to update your insurer if you: 

  • Change your address and/or your name 
  • Change your occupation
  • Change the registered keeper of the vehicle 
  • Have changed the main driver of the vehicle, or added another driver  
  • Have a car accident even if you’re not making a claim 
  • Have penalty points added to your license 
  • Start using your car to drive to and from work 
  • Make any modifications to your car 

Car insurance fraud 

Because car insurance is a legal requirement in the UK, it’s where fraud is most often committed. 

Car insurance fraud is an escalating issue. Research conducted in 2017  revealed some worrying statistics about drivers who had failed to tell their insurer about penalty points they had picked up as the result of driving offences. Some insurers, including LV=, won’t need to ask about your driving convictions if you provide your driving license number when taking out your policy.

The research showed:

  • 23% of drivers failed to tell their insurer the last time they picked up points on their licence
  • 18% of drivers surveyed admitted that they wouldn’t tell their insurer if they did pick up penalty points
  • 1 in 10 drivers surveyed said they knew someone who had picked up penalty points but got a partner to take them instead. This is an offence that could result in a prison term. 
Honesty is the best policy. When you buy insurance, answer all questions as honestly and accurately as you can.

Different types of car insurance fraud

Fronting
Put simply, Fronting is when someone is added to a car insurance policy as a secondary or named driver, but they’re in fact the main driver. For example, if a parent added their son or daughter to their own insurance policy as a named driver, rather than getting the younger driver their own policy. This brings down the cost of insuring a younger driver considerably, but it is illegal.

Modifications
You should always let your insurer know if you’re making any modifications to your car, or if you buy a car that you know has been modified, as your premium may change. Fitting your car with increased security or safety features may bring down your premium, but most modifications will result in an increase, especially if they add value to the car or boost its performance.

Abandoning a Car
This is considered fraud when an owner abandons their car, sets fire to it or does something similar to dispose of it, and then claims it has been stolen to recover money through their insurance.

Change of circumstances
Insurance premiums are calculated on a range of different factors, so when those factors change, it’s important you let your insurer know. These include things like your home address, where your car is parked overnight, your occupation and the way you use your vehicle (for example, whether you commute to work every day in your car).

Victims of car insurance fraud

Ghost Brokers
Ghost brokers are fraudsters who pose as insurance brokers and sell fake policies to motorists. Some policies might be genuine insurance policies, bought from official companies and then altered, before being passed on to motorists who have no idea they’re buying a policy that’s not legitimate.

Other instances of ghost broking include scammers buying an insurance policy but cancelling it quickly so they can claim the refund back, as well as the victim’s money.

A #SteerClearOfFraud campaign was launched  by Metropolitan Police in 2018 to alert motorists to the risks of ghost brokers, and the LV= fraud team is continuing to look at new ways to combat them.

“Ghost Broking continues to be a substantial problem for the industry and we are seeing more examples of ghost brokers using stolen identities when setting up policies,” says LV=’s Simon Roylance.

“We need to do more to raise public awareness of the risks of using a ghost broker which can leave them uninsured and out of pocket.” 

Crash for Cash 
Crash for Cash scammers cause an accident for which the other driver can be blamed. The Insurance Fraud Bureau has identified three methods fraudsters adopt to do this: 

  • The staged accident - involving two vehicles, both driven by criminals, and crashed away from witnesses
  • The induced accident - when criminals brake suddenly or deliberately create a crash involving unsuspecting motorists
  • The ghost accident - when there’s actually no accident at all, but instead a fake insurance claim is submitted

“We still see fraud in the personal injury sector driven by crash for cash and claims farming as a major threat,” says Simon.

“However, the insurance industry, solicitors, law enforcement and regulators have stepped up efforts to combat fraudulent activity in the past few years which has resulted in action against fraudsters and enablers.”

Our team: a day in the life

No two days are the same for the LV= fraud team, who are constantly working hard to ensure criminals are brought to justice and honest LV= customers receive the very best premiums.

In a recent case, a young woman raised suspicion when she called customer service twice to ask if she was covered to drive other cars. In the calls, she referred to the vehicle on the policy as her own. However, she was actually the named driver on the policy – the policy holder was her grandmother. She mentioned they were looking at insuring the car over in her own name, as her grandmother already had a car of her own.

Our Anti-Fraud team investigated, trawling back through the recordings of the calls and requesting additional documents. These confirmed that the granddaughter was in fact the owner and registered keeper of the vehicle, and the policy had been fronted to obtain a cheaper premium. The policy was cancelled.

LV= Claims recently won a high profile legal case in the Supreme Court against a so-called expert witness, setting a legal precedent which will deter some of the ‘professional enablers’ we see on fraudulent claims.

Kamar Khan and Dr Asef Zafar were found guilty of contempt of court after presenting spurious medical documents on behalf of a claimant as evidence in a personal injury insurance claim. The deception came to light when the law firm accidentally submitted both the real report (stating an injury of one week) and the altered one (claiming six to eight months of pain).

When summing up the case at the Royal Courts of Justice, Judge Justice Garnham said that by investigating this “LV= had done the Court a service”.

“Critical to the operation of our system of justice is the trust that courts have to place in solicitor and expert witnesses,” he said.

“Those who make false claims should expect to go to prison.  Solicitors and expert witnesses who act dishonestly in the evidence they give to the court, whether in support of such claims or otherwise, must expect a similar outcome.”

Martin Milliner, LV= GI Claims Director, said: “This is a fantastic outcome which has sent shockwaves through the system and provided a clear framework for the future that professional enablers should be very afraid of. The Court of Appeal has agreed with us that contempt from an ‘expert’ is even more serious than a litigant contempt, and we hope that this ruling deters unscrupulous doctors and lawyers from engaging in this fraudulent practice.”

Things to keep in mind 
When it comes to fraud, just remember to stay vigilant, and always update your insurer if anything changes with your circumstances.

 

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