Car Insurance fraud costing Britain £1.6 billion a year – hardly what we need with the credit crunch and despite the increased use of Big Brother powers and the Motor Insurance and Claims Databases. Quite often the perpetrators may be unaware that a false insurance declaration is a fraud offence, however inaccurate or misleading information is frequently being given in order to reduce car insurance premiums.
As the credit crunch worsens, insurers are seeing evidence of increasing underwriting fraud, costing honest car insurance customers between £50 and £60 each per policy.
In a desperate attempt to cut the price of car insurance premiums, people are declaring false information when they purchase the cover, perhaps unaware that their insurance cover may be invalidated as a consequence. The use of the Internet has exacerbated the problem.
Simon Warsop, director of pricing at Norwich Union Car Insurance, said:
“As the largest insurer in the UK we’re at the forefront of the fight against fraud for the benefit of our honest customers. We have systems in place to identify car insurance policies that are bought using fabricated data, so when declaring information for an insurance quote it’s essential that customers have supplied accurate information to ensure they have adequate cover in the event that they need to make a claim.”
“Fortunately, the majority of our customers are entirely honest and provide accurate, fully disclosed information when they call or go online for a quote. However, there are dishonest people that risk invalidating their insurance by giving incorrect information in a bid to get cheaper motor insurance.”
Incorrect No Claims Discount (NCD) – Can be up to 70% on maximum
In a bid to get a cheaper quote people are claiming more years of no claims than they have actually accrued, either through misunderstanding or deceit. NCD relates to the policy holder and the vehicle, not to anyone who happens to be named on an insurance policy, so unless the insurance policy is in your name you are not able to claim for your NCD. If you have more than one vehicle then you need to build up NCD on each vehicle. Insurers including Norwich Union will consider offering an introductory NCD to named drivers with clean records when they become a policy holder.
Using a Second or Double address – Rates are determined by Postcode and vary largely by sector
Some people are fortunate enough to have two homes. Others try to declare a different, lower risk address for where the vehicle is kept as opposed to their high risk postal address in an effort to reduce their premium. Sometimes they have some sort of connection to the other address, sometimes it appears the address is randomly chosen. It is important to register your vehicle at the address that is your main residence. .
Not declaring convictions or accidents – will cause a claim to be invalidated
Over eight million licence holders have been convicted of speeding in the UK and 600,000 drivers have a drink drive conviction, but a large percentage of those do not declare the conviction to their insurer. Insurers can request a licence check before proceeding with a claim and will then pick up any convictions. Also details of accidents are held on an industry wide database and accidents can be checked. So ensure you declare any accidents and convictions to your insurer at the time of taking out the policy and keep them updated at renewal time.
Annual mileage – affect the premium rating – more miles more risk!
Some people may misjudge how many miles they are doing per year and may actually submit too many miles, however, there are a minority who are declaring far fewer miles than they actually drive in a bid to reduce premium.
A good way to accurately declare annual mileage would be to consult your MOT certificate which will clearly state how many miles have been driven in the 12 months between MOT checks or to check your car’s service history booklet where mileage is also recorded. If the car is subject to a claim the mileage is the first thing checked!
A fraud called fronting occurs when a young person is the main driver of a car, but the insurer is falsely told that a parent or other older person is the main driver. This means the young driver is not fully declared and will not be able to accrue any no claims bonus. It is important that insurers are covering the appropriate risk with the correct premium; otherwise this premium will have to be borne by other, honest customers. (Please see appendices for case study example).
Incorrect information given
In an attempt to get a cheaper insurance quote people have declared wrong age, wrong sex, the wrong payment method, omitted car modifications or even the wrong car on occasion. The incorrect information is often so blatant that there would be no way they could ever claim on their policy. (Please see appendices for case study example).
Fraud statistics show that:
Fraud costs the insurance industry over £1.6 billion a year, money that has to be passed on to customers
This equates to £4 million per day and increases insurance premiums for honest customers by up to £60 per policy
1% (400,000) of all drivers are unlicensed and these drivers are up to 9 times more likely to have a crash than licensed drivers
Norwich Union added:
“As the nation feels the pinch from the credit crunch, more and more people think that they can get away with dishonesty for what is seen as a victimless crime. Insurance fraud is certainly not a victimless crime. The victims are actually the majority of honest drivers who are subsidising the dishonest ones.”
“The whole point of insurance is to cover the costs for a potential future loss, so running the risk of invalidating your insurance by knowingly providing false information is false economy. Honesty is definitely the best policy, and I would certainly advise against ‘massaging your details’ in order to get the cheapest quote. In times of economic turmoil insurance cover is more important than ever so don’t jeopardise your cover by giving false information.”
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