The revelation comes as thousands of post-summer-holiday travel insurance claims are submitted: a minority of which are dishonest.
“Although the vast majority of travel insurance claims are honest, those that are not are often submitted by individuals who don’t in any way match the typical fraudster profile,”, says Simon Cook, Head of Special Investigations for CEGA. “They include those working in professional trades who feel that they are entitled, after they have paid for travel insurance, to exaggerate or inflate genuine claims - especially those for lost or stolen possessions.”
“Fraudsters don’t realise that their claims will be closely scrutinised,” says Simon. “But their scams are investigated in all four corners of the world, leaving them nowhere to hide. They could even end up with a criminal record”
Travel insurance fraudsters span both sexes and all age groups, concludes Simon.
A few of the dishonest travel insurance claims investigated recently by CEGA:
A man on holiday in India made a travel insurance claim for thousands of pounds when his car was supposedly broken into and his cash and bag were stolen. After falsifying a sophisticated police report and car repair receipt, he had high hopes of getting away with the scam. But he wasn’t expecting his travel insurer to investigate his claim “on the ground” in India and unearth the information they needed to prove that the receipts were false and the claim dishonest.
A woman who claimed that her husband had died on holiday and produced the death certificate to prove it, soon turned out to be a fraudster who just wanted to come home early from her holiday. The scam was exposed when an investigator working on the claim visited the hospital in Nigeria that had supposedly issued the certificate and was told by doctors that they had no record of her husband or his death.
An accident in Lebanon had supposedly given a travel insurance customer an injured nose that needed emergency surgery. Although the doctor was collaborating with the patient, neither realised that the claim and medical receipt would be so carefully scrutinised, nor that the doctor would be paid a visit by a professional investigator. It soon transpired that the woman had travelled to Lebanon to have long-wanted plastic surgery to her nose and that the supposed accident never happened.
A holidaymaker in Spain claimed that her mobile phone had been stolen, and asked to be reimbursed via her travel insurance. What she didn’t realise was that her insurer would contact her network provider to ask when the phone was last used. It turned out that it had been blocked by the woman several weeks before she even set off on holiday and lost long before she went away.
CEGA, which is part of the Charles Taylor Group, is one of the leading providers of medical and security assistance, travel risk management and claims services. CEGA has over 40 years’ experience providing services to a blue-chip client base that includes many leading banks, insurance companies, charities, NGOs and other global brands.
CEGA’s independent Special Investigations Unit (SIU) is a finalist in this year’s Insurance Fraud Awards. The unit was established in 2008 and is available as a stand-alone service: serving both CEGA’s clients and external organisations. Its capabilities cover all areas of insurance fraud investigation: including household, personal accident, travel and private health claims. Desktop investigations, cognitive interviews and overseas enquiries on the ground (thanks to a network of global investigators) are among the many techniques employed by the SIU: both to detect fraud and to establish liability. The unit makes a substantial contribution to the UK’s insurance fraud savings.