Nearly a third of Brits think it's acceptable to commit fraud.
21 January 2011
A significant part of the British public believe that it is acceptable to commit insurance fraud, according to a new report by Legal & General. Research conducted for the FraudStoppers Report published today found that nearly a third of Brits (29%) think it is acceptable to exaggerate a home insurance claim, for example adding extra items or increasing the value of the amount being claimed.
The research also indicated that most people (96%) think that other people are being dishonest, with nearly two thirds (62%) of the respondents stating that they believe others exaggerate their house insurance claims by 25% or more. Only 4% felt that their fellow Brits were honest and wouldn’t exaggerate a house insurance claim.
Insurance fraud adds an extra £44 to the average UK household’s annual insurance bill. Last year, over 2,000 dishonest insurance claims worth more than £16 million were detected every week across the industry.
The report found that a key reason why people are committing home insurance fraud is the need to keep up with the latest gadgets and technology. One in ten of those surveyed said that they believed there is no harm in using a house insurance policy to try to replace and upgrade to the next generation gadget. This ‘up-raiding’, trying to commit fraud simply to get the latest technology, is a trend which insurance providers are aware of and they are already catching these potential fraudsters.
TV presenter and self confessed gadget fan, Ortis Deley, said: “Some gadgets and electrical goods are seen as a ‘must have’ these days, such as the latest smart phone or high definition television. The staggering pace of technological change makes it hard to keep up with the trends, especially when money is tight. So I can see how ‘up-raiding’ might be considered by some people as an option to upgrade their mobile phone, laptop or HD TV.”
Steve Phillips, Head of Fraud Services, at Legal & General’s general insurance business, said: “The vast majority of us do understand that insurance fraud is equivalent to robbing other policyholders, but there appears to be a worrying number of people who are willing to make an inflated claim in order to get the latest gadget. This is committing fraud and is illegal. If someone is caught their details will be added to industry-wide databases, which could make it difficult to obtain insurance or finance in the future. In some cases they may also be prosecuted.”
Gadget-junky men more likely to cheat their policy
Men are twice as likely to exaggerate a claim to get a new gadget (13% compared to 6% of females), says the Fraudstoppers Report. Men are also more blasé when it comes to insurance fraud, with almost three times more men than women confident they'll get away with an inflated claim - 13% of men, compared with just 5% of women.
Ortis Deley continues: “The traditional stereotype is that guys get more excited about gadgets than women, but it is alarming that so many more men are prepared to commit fraud just to get the latest version on the market.”
Steve Phillips continued: “Although Legal & General has a zero-tolerance policy on fraud we do pay all genuine claims and have made huge efforts to make the claims process as smooth as possible for our customers. But if we spot anything suspicious about a claim, for example where we believe the damage is malicious, we will investigate it. Our experience and expertise means that we have one of the best household fraud detection rates in the industry and by ensuring we do only pay all valid claims we’ve been able to keep the premiums for our customers as low as possible.”
Tougher than you think
With the research highlighting the up-raiding trend as part of the FraudStoppers Report, Legal & General has produced a series of videos to demonstrate just how durable many gadgets are and that, rather than an upgraded replacement, in many cases a repair is possible. Repairing items, which is often more environmentally friendly, is frequently preferred by customers who may otherwise lose important data held on their item, as well as helping to keep costs and so premiums down.
The videos are available to view at www.legalandgeneral.com/fraudstoppers and show how common accidents, like stepping on a laptop or hitting a TV with a motion-gaming remote, do not typically cause damage to an item that make it beyond repair. Fraudulent claims are often identified by the excessive force that has clearly been used to break an item.
Manufacturers of electrical goods, especially well known brands, rigorously test their goods to make sure they are robust. Some mobile phone manufacturers, for example, employ people to drop handsets from a height of 1.5m onto a concrete floor at every angle to ensure that they are still usable after impacts like these.
TV presenter Ortis Deley comments: “My experience is that the latest gadgets on the market are surprisingly robust and so insurers will spot any deliberate damage. That doesn’t mean that items are unbreakable, so people should ensure they do take preventative measures, like investing in a case for their smart phone or tablet, and ensuring TVs are properly fixed on the wall.”
Insurance Fraud Cheatline
To help reduce the financial impact of fraud and cost for us all, the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) urges anyone with information on insurance fraud to call or click the IFB's confidential Cheatline - on 0800 328 2550 or www.insurancefraudbureau.org/cheatline/.
For more information on home insurance cover available from Legal & General and details on how to make a claim visit website www.legalandgeneral.com/home-insurance or call 0800 027 9833.
Notes to editors
The research was conducted by Opinion Matters, an independent pan-European market research agency, between 3 and 7 November, 2010. A total of 1,099 members of the public were polled across the country.
The FraudStoppers videos used independent panel of people and were recorded in conjunction with SBS Insurance Services, a leading claims fulfilment company and one of the fraud specialist used by Legal & General. The videos include demonstrations of the following claims: