Sun, sea... and scams
Sunday 24 August 1997
This is just one of the inventive frauds currently faced by travel insurers. A third of all claims on travel insurance policies are reckoned to be at least partly false, and the insurance industry says that the pounds 50m of claims estimated to be bogus every year push up the price of travel insurance by around 10 per cent for all holidaymakers.
Of all the different types of insurance, travel insurance sees the highest proportion of fraudulent claims. Most of them involve inflating the value of possessions and money that have been lost or stolen - often as a way of covering the excess on the policy or simply recouping the cost of the insurance.
"Cheating the insurer is perceived to be fair game," says Sarah Joannides of Home & Overseas, the UK's biggest travel insurer and the company behind a number of the policies sold by high street travel agents and banks.
Last week the Association of British Insurers (ABI) warned that in some cases fictitious or even inflated claims could result in prosecution and a criminal record. The perpetrator could also face difficulties in getting insurance in the future. "It's not worth getting a criminal record for the sake of a pounds 150 camera," said an ABI spokesperson. Some insurers, however, say that in practice fraudsters are unlikely to face prosecution except in cases involving claims for many thousands of pounds.
Insurers claim to be alert to fraud and to be using increasingly sophisticated techniques to catch out the fraudsters. They are accustomed to receiving inflated claims involving the alleged theft or loss of video camcorders, expensive cameras, Rolex watches and designer sunglasses or clothes. Some say that in cases where they suspect that a claim is inflated, simply "putting it back in the claimant's court" by seeking more information will see off the fraudster.
Many will demand original receipts and documentation rather than photocopies, because they can detect tampering by using infra-red technology. Some will use local agents or even Interpol to check the existence of medical establishments in the name of which bills are issued. Insurers name India, Pakistan and Thailand as being common sources of counterfeit police reports and receipts. Access to personal computers has also led to an escalation of frauds involving fake bills and reports. Some insurers insist they will contest claims for recently purchased valuables where receipts or other proof of ownership cannot be produced.
Claims for medical treatment that someone never received are common frauds, while cases of people travelling overseas with the express purpose of benefiting from treatment have also been uncovered by reference to medical histories in the UK (pre-existing conditions are normally excluded from policies).
Making more than one claim for one loss is also common, and is said to be more easily picked up these days by computer cross-checking within companies and by sharing of information between insurers. Insurers say they look out for variations in names and addresses for payment.
Claiming twice for the same loss, even if you have two insurance policies, is not permitted. Underlying this rule is the idea that it would encourage people to be irresponsible, knowing that they stood to profit from any claim.
Meanwhile, some foreign police forces are becoming less gullible. Fed up with having to produce reports for items allegedly lost or stolen, they are now challenging people. The ABI reports a recent case where police visited a man in his hotel room after he reported the loss of a video camera. They found both him and the "missing" camera in the room.
05 September 2014 11:30 PM
30 August 2014 12:00 AM
30 August 2014 12:00 AM
The UK has slipped to 11th in the latest European league table of savers. Rob Griffin checks out the best options
22 August 2014 10:30 PM
Caroline Flint, the shadow energy secretary, says a Labour government would create a new energy regulator
22 August 2014 10:30 PM
16 August 2014 12:00 AM
16 August 2014 12:00 AM
08 August 2014 11:30 PM
- 1 Scottish independence: Ireland since 1919 is a lesson for Scotland in what a Yes vote means
- 2 Watch a man race the Circle line - and win
- 3 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 4 Grandmas keep accidentally tagging themselves as Grandmaster Flash on Facebook
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
iJobs Money & Business
£20 - 24k (Uncapped Commission - £35k Year 1 OTE): Guru Careers: We are seekin...
£20 - 24k + Benefits: Guru Careers: This is a great opportunity for an enthusi...
£280 - £320 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...
£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...
Day In a Page
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony