Swizz you were here: holiday scam shock

HOW many people have lost their watch on holiday only to see it miraculously become a Rolex on their return?Or remembered the extra leather coat on the back seat of the car that was just broken into?Insurance in Ipswich is big business but it seems that fraudulent claims are costing us thousands of pounds and are anything but the victimless crimes some people think they are.

By VICTORIA KNOWLES

Victoria.knowles@eveningstar.co.uk

HOW many people have lost their cheap watch on holiday only to describe it as a genuine Rolex on their return?

And how many suddenly remember an extra leather coat that was on the back seat of the car that was just broken into?

Insurance in Ipswich is big business but it seems that fraudulent claims are costing us thousands of pounds and are anything but the victimless crimes some people think they are.

According to new statistics from the Association of British Insurers (ABI), nearly half of the people asked said they would not rule out making a fraudulent claim. Seven per cent have already done so.

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Four out of ten people said they think it is acceptable to exaggerate the value of a claim, and 29pc think it is acceptable to make one up completely.

Malcolm Tarling, Suffolk Spokesman for the ABI, said: "What this shows is that there is a lot of uncertainty as to what is actually wrong and what is right.

"Many people do not see it as a crime but it is no different from shop lifting and there is no such thing as a victimless crime.

"The honest have to pay for the dishonest and it leads to increased policy prices. But there are measures in place. The front line staff are now much better trained to deal with all the tricks which can range from adding £50 on to a holiday claim, to a highly organised syndicate.

"Some people have been known to stage car crashes and even have independent witnesses as part of the syndicate. This can end in thousands of pounds in claims."

Linsay Drain, of Henley Risk Management, in Ipswich, agrees:

"The main issue with false claims is that it leads to premiums rocketing. We are becoming more like America with a blame culture and with the influx of no win no fee claims, the situation is getting worse."

The research comes as insurers step up their efforts to catch fraudsters, with measures ranging from setting up an industry-wide fraud data base to training front-line staff to spot inconsistencies in claims.

The ABI estimates fraud on home and motor insurance costs the industry more than £1 billion a year, and it is establishing an electronic database which will alert insurers to policyholders who have a history of making multiple claims or have taken out more than one policy on their car or home.

But the research also found that people who had lodged false claims were more likely to commit other crimes, with 53pc knowingly buying stolen goods and 31pc admitting they had shoplifted.

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