Remaining vigilant in the fight against fraud

From the challenges of working from home and social distancing, to supporting clients through lockdown and new working practices, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought many changes to the way we operate within the insurance industry. We’ve adapted what we do - but have fraudsters? And if they have, what should we all be looking out for? Aviva remain ever vigilant in this space and committed to sharing our insights with you. 

 

Tom Gardiner, Head of Fraud, Claims Recoveries & Risk for Aviva UK GI, gave his views on the current Fraud landscape...

“In the light of the current COVID-19 event, my team and I have recently completed a review of our exposure to Fraud. Our findings have shown that while business/social restrictions and lower accident frequency may reduce exposure short term and disrupt the activities of some organised fraud (e.g. cash for crash), longer term we believe that the financial pressure on households and business will unfortunately significantly increase the motivation for fraud.

However, whilst we expect fraud to increase, we broadly expect to see “more of the same” rather than lots of new typologies – with particular high risk areas being policy fraud and ghost broking (people seeking lower premiums), Motor and Property Claims fraud (accidental loss, fire, theft) and bogus injury claims (Motor, EL/PL). We do, however anticipate a new emerging threat from home-working and essential-worker related claims (EL) being targeted, and potentially attracting aggressive claims farming and spurious claims (especially as the PPI and whiplash claims start to dry up).

The good news is that, whilst we need to be vigilant and alert to new trends, we believe our existing controls will continue to respond well to protect our customers and brokers. We have a highly de-centralised fraud model – fighting fraud on the front line in our Claims teams – backed up by a suite of technology and analytics at the front door (policy fraud) and at the point of claim, and a dedicated fraud team of approx. 100 staff. We have significantly stepped up our internal monitoring and we’re working closely with the market and our suppliers. And we are already investing further this year to strengthen our fraud controls in some high-risk areas.

Our Group Financial Crime team are also playing a leading role working closely with the UK market, regulators and enforcement agencies to inform and shape our industry response.

In 2019, we avoided over 13,000 cases of suspect or proven Claims fraud (£75m), and over 21,000 instances of Policy fraud. And in 2018/19 we successfully prosecuted 74 cases, attracting sentences of over 110 years. Unfortunately, we will never eradicate insurance fraud, but in the last 5 years we have spent over £7m improving our ability to prevent, detect and respond to fraud across personal and commercial lines, and to protect our brokers and customers.

We greatly value the role of our brokers as a “first line of defence” in the fight against fraud – helping to ensure that fraudsters don’t access products in the first place, that we don’t pay fraudulent claims, and that we can keep premiums low for genuine customers. 

And finally, whilst it’s really important that we’re tough on fraud and respond to this increased threat, we are very mindful that the huge majority of our customers are genuine – so we have effective checks in place to ensure that our fraud processes don’t adversely impact our genuine customers, and that we are here for you and our customers when you need us most.”

If you have any suspicions or need any advice about Policy or Claims fraud, then please contact consumerfraud_IB@aviva.com

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