August 13, 2009

The ABI is on the warpath. This summer it has travel insurance cheats in its sights.

False claims for the theft of high value personal items have funded many a foreign jaunt and wasted countless hours of police time in holiday destinations around the globe.

But that was then, say the ABI. Now the industry is cracking down on holiday claims cheats – and cracking down hard!

If anyone thinks they’ll get away with this kind of stunt nowadays, they’d better think again. Insurers and overseas police forces are more clued-up and vigilant today than ever before.

Impossibly sophisticated industry-wide databases whir and click around the clock, and a giant techno-forensic net is closing fast on would-be claims cheats.

Last year alone travel insurers uncovered 4,300 dishonest claims with a total value of around £5 million. Think about it: that’s over 80 cases cracked each week. Wanna try your luck now, Punk?

ABI goes on to alert potential claims cheats that particular attention will be paid to claims where “items are reported lost or stolen to the insurer very shortly before returning home, with no time to report the loss to the police.”

Would-be fraudsters reading the ABI’s advice may well conclude that perhaps it’s worth the hassle of a trip to the local police station after all. They should also remember to check their friends’ bags for incriminating evidence (see below)!

“The vast majority of claimants are honest,” the ABI’s Nick Starling proposes generously, “but the dishonest few are in for a nasty and expensive shock this summer.”

Those who get caught, he notes, will have trouble getting other kinds of insurance and have to pay more – thanks to all those databases. Their credit ratings may be dented, and they could face prosecution.

To round off this cautionary tale in agreeably tabular form, the ABI has some examples for us:

• A photographer was jailed for three months after making a false claim for £8,000 worth of camera equipment allegedly damaged on holiday.

• A holidaymaker in Cyprus reporting an alleged theft was caught out when the resort police discovered the ‘stolen’ items in her friend’s handbag.

• The ‘recovery expenses’ claimed by a traveller following a bout of malaria contracted in West Africa were in fact for services provided by the local brothel.

• A doctor was given a custodial sentence and barred by the BMA after making multiple baggage claims.



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