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Seeing clearly through the smoke and mirrors

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Gary Humphreys puts car insurance fraud under the microscope.

According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI) the number of fraudulent car insurance claims rose by 34% to 59,900 last year. ‘Crash for cash’ and more recent ‘flash for clash’ scams (when a driver flashes their lights to let someone in front pass them, only to deliberately drive into the rear of their car) have become ‘copycat crimes’ and a real issue for insurers. Stories of these incidents are being covered widely in the media, meaning the public are becoming more aware of unscrupulous drivers around them, which can only be a good thing.

Markerstudy, like the industry as a whole, is working hard to reduce fraud by employing highly trained teams and investing in specialist systems and processes, but there’s always more that can be done. Quite simply, insurers need to work together to share as much information as possible, while being mindful of Data Protection Act restrictions, of course. The new Government initiative, My Licence, which will allow insurers to check individual driving records online, as well as Experian’s No Claims Discount database, are measures which will help identify dishonest drivers from the outset.

So called ‘ghost brokers’, who operate through websites or adverts offering cheap insurance, are leaving thousands of innocent motorists uninsured, and are another issue we’re all faced with. Instances are reducing, however, as there are now online checks designed to flush them out.

Unfortunately criminals will always find new ways to commit fraud so both the industry and the public must continue to be vigilant. I hope 2013 represented a ‘peak’ and think the combination of raised public awareness, insurer initiatives and work undertaken by The Insurance Fraud Bureau and The Insurance Fraud Department in identifying fraud rings will have a hugely positive impact in the future.

Author, Gary Humphreys

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