How insurance companies defraud us

The launch this week of the Insurance Fraud Register, a database of dodgy claims made by car, home and travel insurance customers, comes with the usual tales of organised criminality ranging through to plain stupidity.
A group of 30 men hired a coach to go greyhound racing. They all claimed whiplash following a staged accident with the car behind. One family made more than 100 home insurance claims for damage – from thunderstorms that never happened to cars that never crashed into their walls. Another guy cut his thumb at the gym but claimed for a more serious injury using photos downloaded off the internet.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) says fraud is running at about £2bn-plus a year and adds £50 to honest customers’ bills. On the fraud register insurance companies will share the names of the dishonest, and given that the ABI says there were more than 100,000 bogus or exaggerated home and car insurance claims last year alone, it will soon be groaning with names and addresses.
I think we can all help out the ABI. Here are some names I would like to add to the Insurance Fraud Register:
Virtually every underwriter for home insurance The ABI says it detected 71,000 frauds last year, but in truth it runs to millions. That’s because every year insurers routinely raise premiums – especially those paid by older customers – far, far beyond the cost of underwriting the risk on the property. We reported how an 83-year-old Derbyshire pensioner living in a modest two-bed bungalow had his home and contents policy with the same insurer for 58 years. The insurer progressively ramped up his premium to £648 a year – yet if he bought it as a new customer it was just £135.
Is that fraud? I think so. Is it a bogus or exaggerated premium? Certainly. And it goes on all the time, with loyal customers always the softest targets. So let’s put the names of all the underwriters who defraud customers in this way on to the ABI’s fraud register.
The chief executives of insurers that sold payment protection insurance They knew their customers didn’t need it or couldn’t claim on it. But they carried on selling it, regardless. Why? Because it was immensely profitable. Guardian Money first uncovered the scale of mis-selling eight years ago when we revealed banks were pulling in 70% profit margins from pushing PPI. The rest is history – and the banks are, of course, now paying the price. Is knowingly selling an insurance product with false promises of payouts tantamount to fraud? Probably. Put the individuals on the ABI fraud register.
The “customer service” agents who routinely reject claims A colleague is currently battling his insurer over a stolen iPhone. For weeks it has delayed, prevaricated and rejected all the evidence to avoid paying out. Then there are the car insurers who routinely offer a below-market valuation if your car is stolen. In both cases insurers are just trying it on, hoping the customer will give up and accept less, or nothing. Is that fraud? In my book it is.

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4 thoughts on “How insurance companies defraud us”

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