Crash for cash claims boss gets five


A press release issued earlier this month by the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) reports the case of a claims manager sentenced to five years’ imprisonment at Bradford Crown Court. The jail sentence is the culmination of a joint initiative between the IFB and West Yorkshire Police codenamed Operation Keep. The proprietor of Autotransform Claims from Keighley West Yorkshire, his partner, an engineer and two claimants received a total of seven years three months imprisonment for defrauding insurance companies. West Yorkshire Police and the IFB launched an investigation in February 2007 after the latter identified suspicious claims being submitted to multiple insurers from the accident management company. Dawn raids in Keighley led to 22 arrests for conspiracy to defraud insurance companies. Fraudulent claims, false repairs and replacement hire cars were uncovered using sophisticated analytical tools and detailed forensic examinations. IFB Chairman John Beadle, Chairman commmented: “There is growing evidence to show that the proceeds from this type of fraud are used to fund other forms of serious crime including drugs trafficking and gun running.

The power of the IFB acting as a collective to represent the industry with law enforcement is demonstrating real results. We are seeing a growing appetite across regional police forces to work with the Bureau to pursue the fraudsters targeting our industry. The members of the IFB are determined to protect honest policy holders” Detective Sergeant Ben McDonald of Airedale and North Bradford CID, added: “This was an extremely complex and detailed investigation, one of the first of its kind for West Yorkshire involving officers from West Yorkshire Police, the Insurance Fraud Bureau, and the Ministry of Justice. We are pleased with the sentences today which send out a message that the activities of organised criminal gangs will not be tolerated in Keighley or anywhere else in Airedale and North Bradford. Members of the gang ring were involved in fraud on an industrial scale and this has been recognised in the sentences. Those who are tempted to engage in insurance fraud such as this should be warned that we will take robust action to find and prosecute them.”


A run of sensationalist stories on credit hire is giving the press something to talk about through the traditional pre-Christmas news lull. Anyone who heard the recent Moneybox “exposè” on Radio 4 will appreciate the extent to which credit hire is catching the imagination of the news-agenda setters. On 10 December Insurance Time’s Lauren MacGillivray reported on the “shadowy world of credit hire,” “a game without rules” worth £1bn annually where “anything goes.”

With growing levels of litigation over unpaid credit hire bills, the report says insurers are pitted against “operators who will stop at nothing to get their fee.” The report says credit hire adds £50 to every motor policy, citing “chief executives such as Andrew Torrance of Allianz” blaming credit hire for “denting this year’s results.” It goes on to conclude that the GTA is in danger of falling apart and that the ABI “wants to get rid of the responsibility of administrating the agreement.” NACHO secretary Barry Bromley blames a few bad apples for the industry’s PR problems: “The people who … are not members of either association (NACHO and AMA), some of their activities are disgusting and do the credit hire industry as a whole no good at all.” But the report questions whether “the bulk of the credit hire industry” is legitimate.

AXA’s Phil Rawlings casts doubt on industry representative’ suggestion that average hire claims for basic vehicles are about £1,400: “The Motor Insurance Bureau reported that a case of hire for £130,000 was recently submitted and rejected. Hire charges of £50,000 are frequent, and those up to £10,000 commonplace,” he says. A major bone of contention, MacGillivray claims, is the GTA’s provision that insurers must pay credit hire invoices within 30 days or face additional 7.5% surcharges at 60 and 90 days.

The AMA’s Tony Baker claims 38% of claims remain unpaid at 90 days, obliging credit hire firms to issue court proceedings. But, the report reports, insurers counterclaim that credit hire firms are “deliberately driving up penalty fees” by “stalling, or providing slipshod paperwork that requires further investigation.” Quoting Baker’s claims that “outstanding debt represents more than 50% of turnover for each operator and, in a credit crunch, this threatens companies’ survival,” the report concludes that “with the recession ramping up the pressure to drive down costs, this is one game that’s about to get dirty.”


Insurers will be able to recoup millions paid out on motor theft claims through the sale of vehicles recovered in the course of a major anti-fraud operation. So claims a recent news item penned by Insurance Times reporter Norman West. Police cracking down on car cloning, the story avers, have recovered 640 stolen vehicles on which insurers have paid out £6.4m in claims. No arrests, however, have yet been made. A batch of blank registration forms apparently went missing from the DVLA in 2006. These were subsequently filled out to match cars of the same colour and type being driven legitimately. Unsuspecting purchasers of the re-plated vehicles only discovered the fraud much later when the DVLA checked its database. Insurance Times quotes Detective Sergeant Mark Tidy of ACPO’s Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service saying: “We are looking at a highly organised criminal organisation. Some people are making a lot of money. We do not know how many documents are out there. This could go on and on.” The paper also quotes an RBSI spokesman adding: “We advise used car purchasers to validate vehicle provenance before they purchase the car. The DVLA can verify ownership for a few pounds.” Quite so.


At this year’s MCN Awards Ducati UK won both Manufacturer of the Year and Machine of the Year (the latter for its Desmosedici RR). The awards ceremony, hosted by TV’s Alan Davies at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham on 27 November, also saw wins for Honda’s CBR1000RR Fireblade (Sports Bike of the Year) and Valentino Rossi (Man of the Year). Rossi couldn’t be there on the night. But, hey, Charley Boorman could! Desmosedici, of course, is Italian for not ’til you’re sixteen.


A press release from EurotaxGlass’s, publisher of Glass’s Guide to Used Motorcycles, claims shockingly that transaction prices for used motorcycles have fallen as retailers mount promotions aimed at offloading unwanted bikes.

Dealers are apparently dropping prices to make space in their showrooms for more saleable models and to release cash tied up in used bikes whose model type, style, or condition makes them less desirable. Glass’s Guide editor Randal Thomas commented: “Our sources within the trade indicate that large capacity supersports machines have been impacted most heavily, with dealers offering them at highly discounted rates to encourage sales.” He went on to say that “retailers are being particularly cautious as we enter a period of shorter days and the winter chill begins to bite. Cash-flow invariably turns negative and already tight resources are being put under the greatest pressure.” However, he concludes, “some of the machines retailers currently feel obliged to clear will be happily taken back into stock once the new season gets a little closer.” Where will it all end?

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