Proportion of bogus insurance claims jumped by 10% in 2020, says Aviva

More than 12,000 fraudulent claims collectively worth more than £113 million were uncovered by insurance giant Aviva last year.

It said the proportion of general insurance claims denied due to fraud grew by 10% in 2020, compared with 2019.

Some claims have been linked to the coronavirus pandemic – for example, people claiming to have slipped on hand sanitiser on the floor.

As households and businesses continue to come under financial stress, the insurer expects to see significantly more fraud in the year ahead.

Whiplash fraud accounted for 60% of false claims detected by Aviva.

Government reforms to help people with genuine injury claims and keep premiums down by weeding out bogus and exaggerated claims came into force at the end of May 2021.

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More than three-quarters of the motor insurance claims fraud Aviva detected in 2020 was committed by third parties who were not its customers.

Around 15% of motor claims fraud was linked to organised crime.

Aviva also said it identified fraud on more than 29,000 motor policy applications, up by 34% on 2019 figures.

Ghost broking happens when an unauthorised person acts as a middleman, fraudulently taking out motor insurance policies for someone else, in return for a fee. False personal details are entered into such policies to keep premiums artificially low.

The person paying the fee may think they are getting a good deal – but when they try to make a claim on the policy they will find it is invalid, leaving them uninsured.

Frauds committed against businesses’ employers liability and public liability insurance policies also increased slightly, with the proportion of detected fraud up by 5% on 2019 figures.

One in four liability claims were “slip and trips”. In some instances, fraudsters have tried to capitalise on safety measures that businesses have put in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Aviva said it has identified multiple bogus injury claims stemming from a fall due to hand sanitiser on the floor.

The proportion of home insurance claims that were rejected for fraud grew by 26% in 2020. Home insurance fraud detection is a priority focus for Aviva in 2021 and the insurer expects to see the number of claims rejected for fraud continue to rise.

The average value for a fraudulent household insurance claim was £1,650. Gadgets are often items which are the subject of fraudulent claims.

David Lovely, claims director, general insurance, Aviva, said: “The recessionary factors caused by Covid-19 have arguably created the biggest fraud threat to customers in a generation. Currently, Government intervention is mitigating many of these financial impacts, but unfortunately we expect to see significantly more fraud in the coming year.

“Policy fraud, such as ghost broking, is one area in particular where we believe we will see increases in attempted fraud, as people misrepresent policies to access cheaper premiums.

“As households and businesses come under increased financial stress, we expect to see more claims fraud, especially on home, small business and liability policies.

“The good news is that, whilst we expect to see more fraud, we broadly expect it to be more of the same types of fraud, and we believe our existing controls will continue to respond very well.

“However, we remain vigilant for new types or methods of fraud, and are continuing to invest in strengthening our fraud controls over the next two years – to protect genuine customers from the impact of fraud, and to keep premiums low.”