Monday, 1 September 2008

Life insurance fraudsters caught out after attending doctors appointment in his own name.

Attending a doctors checkup, six months after he allegedly died in Afghanistan, scupered a Gloucester mans wife attempt to claim £300,000 on his life insurance policy.

At a court hearing last week in Gloucester, a judge sentenced 34-year-old Akhtary to 60 hours of community service and his former wife, Anne Akhtary, to 40 hours of community service but suspended prison sentences of nine months each.

Anne Akhtary, 43, admitted trying to claim the payout from the Norwich Union insurance company by using a forged death certificate from Afghanistan claiming that her husband had died of brain trauma in an accident.

Within weeks, however, Norwich Union investigators were tipped off about the doctor's appointment.

"They were told that Mr. Akhtary's GP had seen him at his practice and he had attended hospital so it was not the most sophisticated way of going about making a false claim," said prosecutor James Cranfield.

Akhtary had continued to live openly in Gloucester after his supposed death, working and paying taxes, Cranfield said.

Passing sentence on Friday, Judge Mark Horton said fake insurance claims were serious but that the couple had been less than sophisticated in their attempt and that no money had been lost.

Anyone tempted to beat the credit crunch and commit life insurance fraud is advised against it. As financial institutions have already began to tighten up their procedures in light of the recent high profile John Darwin missing canoeist case.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

£30 million a year saved by removing uninsured cars

Research by The Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) has revealed that the introduction of automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) has resulted in 10% fewer accidents since 2006.

ANPR works by automatically reading the number plate of any car that passes by. It then searches a number of databases including the insurance bureaus database and alerts the police to any suspect cars.

The technology was original developed as a counter terrorism measure in London during the IRAs bombing campaign. Since then it has been widely adopted by the UK’s police forces.

A recent blitz has resulted in some 200,000 uninsured cars being taken off the road in two years.

The MIB said as a direct result of this there has been 10% fewer accidents since 2006-saving the Insurance industry £30 million a year.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Crazy people

A recent report revealed some worrying information, around 3.8million drivers put other road users at risk by not being able to see properly mainly because they think specs make them look ugly.

Unsurprisingly the worst offenders are women, some 14 million female motorists need glasses to meet the legal requirement of reading a car number plate at 70ft.

But one in four regularly drives without them — and one in five has had a crash or close shave within the past year as a result.

Incredibly one in 16 believes they are safe to get behind the wheel despite their poor vision.

The same report also named the most bizarre insurance claims recieved in a single year, so funny in fact that we just had to mention them.

A motorist called his insurance company after a camel kicked his car.

While another said his windscreen was melted by a crashing Harrier jet.

In another case, a car windscreen was shattered by a nut thrown by a squirrel.

One car was dented when a naked pedestrian ran across it for a joke.

And another claim came after a woman put shampoo in her tank thinking it was petrol.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Keep an eye on the kids

Children cause more than 850,000 accidents in the home every year and the resulting damage costs nearly £230 million.

According to new research young children are the number one cause of damage in their households, and are responsible for 42 per cent of all accidents.

It may be surprising to learn that teenagers are not the biggest culprits as far as causing accidents are concerned, they account for just one in five accidents around the home or 250,000 accidents a year, resulting in £68 million worth of damage.

With the summer holidays in full swing and the usual English summertime weather, school-age children will be in and around the home for most of the day. So parents are being warned to keep an eye on their clumsy kids.

And even those without kids can’t escape the damage they cause, because of the 850,000 accidents last year, 250,000 of them happened in someone else's home while visiting.

Monday, 21 July 2008

The car accident scam

A new insurance crime wave is sweeping Britain and is costing innocent motorists thousands. The scam which has been used in the states for a number of years varies in its level of sophistication but usually takes the following form fraudsters will fill a car with as many passengers as possible they then drive in front of an innocent motorist wait for them to be distracted by something like adjusting the radio and brake suddenly causing the innocent motorist to hit the rear of the fraudsters car.

In the eyes of the insurers the innocent victim will be at fault and the fraudsters will often use bogus witnesses who where not even at the scene of the accident and fictitious passengers. Then follows bogus injury claims for all the passengers in the car along with bogus claims for car hire and hugely exaggerated repair bills. In some cases a simple accident can cost an insurer £30,000.

The fraudsters use old cars and tend to target cars that are a few years old with lone drivers. They will often use a round about as the scene of the accident. If you are caught in this situation beware of any witnesses who appear from nowhere blaming you and passengers claiming whip lash after minor accidents.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Fraudsters beware

The insurance industry had a stark warning for anyone tempted to make a false insurance claim. Recently released figures from the ABI (Association of British Insurers) show that last year insurers uncovered 24,000 fraudulent motor insurance claims up 70% over the past three years. In total £260 million, or £5 million every week of false claims where detected.

Nick Starling, the ABI’s Director of General Insurance and Health, said:

“Insurance fraud is no victimless crime. Honest motorists pay through higher insurance premiums – an extra £40 a year on average. This is why insurers are ramping up their crackdown to weed out the cheats. Anyone committing insurance fraud is more likely to get caught, risks a criminal record, and will find future insurance and credit harder to obtain and more expensive.”

The number of fraudulet claims is expected to rise sharpely as consumers start to feel the pinch of the credit crunch and strugle to meet hire purchase and loan repayments.

Cheats who have been caught out include:

• A policyholder, claiming for damage to her Land Rover when it hit the front of her house, said it was caused when her foot slipped off the brake. However, the damage was caused deliberately, following an argument with her partner.
• A car owner claimed his car had been stolen. It was proved that he had pushed it over a cliff, and planned to use the insurance payout to meet his Hire Purchase payments.
• The owner of a Rolls Royce claimed £10,000 for the alleged theft of the front grill, hubcaps, steering wheel, seats and bonnet mascot. However, he had removed the items himself; they were later found in his home by the police. He received a criminal conviction.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Speed cameras on the slopes

Switzerland is reportedly trying to cut down on the number of skiing accidents by introducing speed cameras onto the slopes.

State-run Insurance company Swiss Accident Insurance (Suva), is set to bring in speed traps as part of a safety campaign aimed at reducing the number of winter sport-related accidents.

Officials carrying hand-held radar speed devices will be deployed to catch speeders, any one caught speeding could have their ski pass confiscated or get stung with a fine.

The scheme is said to have been prompted by figures showing a dramatic increase in ski-related accidents in Switzerland.

Reports suggest there were over 70,000 accidents on Swiss ski slopes last year.
Suva spokeswoman Angela Zobrist said: “This is not another fun-spoiling campaign of the health and safety brigade and we don’t intend to raise a warning finger to all snow sport lovers.

"It is a genuine safety concern. You do not realise how fast you go, which can prove to be really dangerous if you impact with another skier or have any other incident.”

Monday, 16 June 2008

Costly DIY?

A recent survey of 1500 men has revealed more than a third (37%) admitted they don't really like doing DIY and another third of all men feel under pressure from their partners to undertake DIY jobs.

This figure is corroborated by the fact that 31% of women expect their partners to carry out the necessary home improvement and 49% think DIY skills are desirable in a prospective partner.

Conversely, only 2% of men expect their partners to be able to accomplish DIY tasks.

The survey further suggests that, in order to impress their partners, many men take on too ambitious and even possibly dangerous projects such as electric wiring or major building or gas works.

A spokesperson for ROSPA said "TV home makeover shows make it all appear so simple, and it's easy to forget that these are highly skilled professionals."

"In reality trying to tackle certain areas you are not qualified for such as electrics or plumbing is dangerous and could even invalidate your home insurance policy, leaving you liable for any subsequent damage. We'd recommend using a reputable tradesman rather than going it alone."

ROSPA urges homeowners who do not have the necessary qualifications or experience to be cautious, because their home insurance might be invalidated if their home improvement work goes wrong.

Accidental damage of sinks, baths, ceramic hobs or glass in doors is included in most policies, but common DIY disasters like drilling into a water pipe or putting a foot through the ceiling might require additional cover.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Making a false insurance claim could cost you your home

False claims and policyholders exaggerating the cost of damage costs the insurance industry £1.5 billion a year.

With fraudulent claims on the up and the cost of recent flood damage rising, insurance companies are continuing to crack down on false or inflated claims.

One of the ways they deter false claims is by sharing information with mortgage lenders and credit card providers, which could potentially make it much harder for claims cheats to obtain credit.

John Beadle, RSA's counter fraud manager, said: "The reality is that insurance fraud adds a significant amount to overall claim costs and it's the honest policyholders who are the true victim, Fraud adds five per cent onto their insurance bills"

He added "Consumers need to be aware that in the near future we will be able to monitor fraud across a spectrum of financial products. So if a person commits fraud on a claim and is detected, other companies, like mortgage lenders and credit card providers will be aware of it".

You've been warned!

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Looking forward to that trip away?

Holidays don't always go without a hitch. Each year UK travel insurance companies receive thousands of claims for compensation from unlucky holidaymakers. The most common claims tend to be for lost baggage, cancellation or medical expense.

But there are some others which can only be described as bizzare - so here are our five of the oddest travel insurance claims we've heard:

1. Monkey Business

Malaysian monkeys caused romantic getaway mayhem when a couple returned to their chalet to find their underwear, clothing and belongings strewn across the resort and neighbouring rainforest. Fortunately the travel insurer paid the claim for the clothes-less couple.

2. Toupee overboard
One unlucky pensioner enjoying a cruise found his toupee overboard after a strong gust of wind lifted it off his head and blew it in to the sea. His travel insurance reimbursed him for the cost of his hairpiece.

3. Don't get stung
A careless holidaymaker paid a painful price when he dropped his wallet down a drain in Natanya. The Briton's claim wasn't for his cash or credit cards though - it was for hospital treatment after he reached down the drain to rescue his wallet, and was stung by a scorpion. Luckily, his travel insurance covered the cost of the treatment.

4. The unhappy campers
An unfortunate family had a shock when they were on a camping trip in a remote field in Wales, following a parachutist from a nearby airbase missing his target and landing on their camping equipment, destroying it. The family weren't covered for accidental damage, so unfortunately their insurer did not reimburse them.

5. Swimming smile
Whilst on a cruise, one sickly pensioner lost his false teeth over the side of the ship when throwing up into the choppy seas of the Bay of Biscay. The misplaced dentures were thankfully covered in his travel insurance policy under lost baggage, so his claim was paid.

Monday, 14 April 2008

How the neighbors DIY could end up costing you.

Homeowners in the south-east of the UK are the worst culprits in terms of DIY disasters, according to new research.

Some 29 per cent of the recorded incidents of damage caused to neighbours' properties as a result of property renovation occurred in the south-east, a new Halifax study indicates.

A cumulative £173 million worth of damage is caused by neighbours undertaking home improvement projects, with one-third of those affected having to cover the cost themselves, while others split the cost.

David Rochester, head of underwriting at Halifax Home Insurance, said: "A number of errant DIYers are not just damaging their properties, but their neighbours' homes too

Friday, 28 March 2008

You couldn't make it up - Australian version

An elderly man was penalised for the twin crimes of failing to keep one’s savings in a secure bank and keeping secrets from one’s wife when the wad of cash he had secretly stashed in the couple’s rarely-used wood fire oven went up in smoke when she decided to prepare (an also rare) home-cooked meal.

All in a day’s work apparently for the chaps at Allianz Australia – according to a list the insurer released today of strange but true insurance claims.

“We hear quite a few interesting stories through our claims ..." says a spokesman for the company "… from a car crash caused by a ghost to horses eating car interiors.”

Perhaps, surprisingly, many of these claims are successful.

“You couldn’t make some of these stories up if you tried,” he said.

“It goes to show that truth really can be stranger than fiction.”

Some of the more unusual claims paid by Allianz in 2007 include an Adelaide-based woman who was robbed of her extensive (and apparently expensive) collection of sex toys, a rural NSW-based family whose home inside a hill was destroyed when a cow fell through their skylight and a northern Queensland-based man who’s car was written off when he swerved to avoid hitting the local celebrity ghost.

While Allianz were somewhat doubtful about the circumstances of the last claim, it was paid on the basis that it could not be proven that ghosts do not exist.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

DIY fans expected to cause up to £25 million damage this Easter

DIY enthusiasts could cause up to £25million worth of damage in British homes this Easter weekend - one of the most popular periods for taking on home improvements.

Research suggests that a clumsy 16 per cent of people have damaged their homes or their property carrying out a DIY improvement and the industry expects to pay out anything up to £25 million for DIY-related damage this Easter.

A survey of 2,000 householders by Allianz Insurance also found that nearly 30 per cent of people admit they have injured themselves or someone else while carrying out a DIY job. This figure is supported by the fact that an estimated 200,000 DIY enthusiasts turn up at hospital each year.

Worryingly, 55 per cent admitted to starting a DIY job without the correct tools and almost 50 per cent said that they had started a DIY job without really knowing how to do it - including electrical and plumbing jobs.

So if you're looking to start those long-awaited home improvements this weekend - you just mind how you go!

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Earthquake could result in 3,250 home insurance claims

The insurance industry is bracing itself fro as many as 3,250 home insurance claims as a result of last week’s earthquake, which reached 5.2 on the Richter Scale.

It estimates that collectively these could run into tens of millions of pounds. However, with one in 20 households without buildings insurance, the bank warns that there will be a number of homeowners who will find themselves having to foot significant repair bills themselves.

Those who think that earthquakes are rare and that it won't happen to them should consider this.

There are more earthquakes in the UK than in any other European country – so there!

Monday, 3 March 2008

Barking Mad

An estimated 1.8 million pet insurance claims are made in the UK against veterinary treatment for cats and dogs every year. A further 18,000 claims are also made for other reasons including when the animal is lost or stolen. However around 75% of uninsured cat and dog owners pay out for an estimated 5.5 million veterinary treatments annually.

According to a supermarket insurance company who shall remain nameless but would be better employed making sure they had enough bread and milk on the shelves of my local one, the most common pet insurance claim is for skin tumours, followed by general poor health where the cat or dog is said to be "just not his/herself".

Monday, 18 February 2008

Sir Tom denies chest hair insurance claim

Apparently Sir Tom Jones has dismissed reports he’s had his legendary chest hair insured for millions.

A tabloid newspaper reported that the singer had approached Lloyd’s of London, who agreed to insure his chest hair for £3.5million.

But a posting on Sir Tom’s official website says the claims are nonsense.

“The story is completely fabricated,” it says. “No such insurance policy exists or has ever been considered. We assume this is just a bit of fun and hope no one takes this kind of ‘reporting’ seriously.”

We thought such an insurance policy would be rare.

But apparently, it's not unusual!

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Insurance fraud can be dangerous

Insurance fraud is harder than it looks. Just ask Andreas, who lost his life trying to collect on an amputated limb. Just ask Musa and his son Essa, who hired an arsonist to burn down their Steak Thyme Subs shop so they could collect the insurance money. They promised him a $60,000 a year job, but where he would work once the shop was gone is unknown.

Three times he tried, and three times he failed to destroy the sandwich shop. The neighborhood was up in arms over the apparent "hate crimes" repeatedly being committed against the Jordanian immigrants. Whether it was a Molotov cocktail thrown through the window, or chairs doused with gasoline and set ablaze, the result was the same. Minor damage. This was getting them nowhere fast!

Eventually Musa grew tired of throwing good money after bad. For the fourth arson attempt, only 12 hours after the flaming chairs fizzled, he and his son decided to help out their hired hand. They spread gasoline around their eatery, so that a single match would do the trick.

Tragically, they apparently had more talent for arson than their amateur arsonist. They took a cigarette break. One lit cigarette later, an accidental gas explosion took out one wall, and burned both men over 80% of their bodies. Despite several weeks of hospitalized care, the men died from their injuries.

The inept arsonist faces a far lighter sentence: up to 10 years in prison.

Let that be a lesson to you!

Thursday, 24 January 2008

On the fiddle

One in 10 people would exaggerate an insurance claim if they believed they would not get caught and 7% admit to actually committing fraud, says a Norwich Union report.

Insurers often face criticism for using non-disclosure as a scapegoat in order to avoid payouts, but they have also said consumers need to take their share of the blame.

Following a survey commissioned by Norwich Union, the UK insurer said that up to 10% of all insurance claims are thought to be false, which represents a cost of more than £1.6 billion a year.

The research also showed that 75% of British adults believe that dishonesty is rife in today's society, and 46% believe the UK has seen a significant shift in attitudes over the past decade.

Dominic Clayden, director of claims at Norwich Union, said that as much as 60% of all insurance fraud is committed by those who are motivated by a belief that everyone else is at it. But he also said that another reason for fraud was that people were concerned they would not be paid the full value by their insurer.

‘These concerns are in fact entirely misplaced, our priority is to pay genuine claims in full, as quickly as possible,’ Clayden said.

Last year Norwich Union identified and denied 20,000 claims that it deemed were fraudulent, worth approximately £150 million.

Clayden said: ‘Not many people realise that if any part of their claim can be shown to be fraudulent, then the whole claim is potentially invalidated and you risk not receiving any payment at all.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Those crazy insurance claims - again!

A leading Insurance company has sifted through more than 180,000 car insurance claims and released a list of some of the craziest.

They include:

Silly Moo – You expect to see a few animals on a trip to the countryside but finding one on top of her car certainly took Mrs R by surprise. After crashing through a fence and making a rather large dent in the bonnet, the bull and driver were lucky to escape with minor bumps – the car was not!

The Big Sleep – Mr L found his trip to Holy Island in Northumberland so relaxing that as he sat in his camper van admiring the view, he nodded off. However, he woke up to find he’d parked on the causeway and the tide had come in. Whilst he was safely rescued by boat, his van sank without trace.

Upsetting the Applecart – A shocked Mr A was taken by surprise when he experienced a rather unusual downpour. It wasn’t rain showering down on his car but apples from a forklift truck

Supermarket Sweep – Flying balls, jumping deer and barking dogs...we thought we had heard them all until Mrs P claimed “several airborne shopping trolleys came flying towards me ruining my bonnet.” The offending trolleys had fallen off a delivery lorry.

All Washed Up – Mr K found himself in deep water on a trip to the car wash. When a brush came loose and scraped down the side of his vehicle he opened the door to press the emergency button. Unfortunately, the machine jammed in the open door, writing off both car and car wash

It just goes to show, you need to ensure you’re covered for all eventualities, however far-fetched they might seem.

Friday, 4 January 2008

A real Christmas story? Or a cheap PR trick?

It doesn't take much to get the old Insurance suits excited.

This week, one of our treasured and traditional insurers = Sainsbury’s (and I thought they were grocers) - issued a warning of an increase in home insurance claims from Boxing Day.

Yep - you read that right. Apparently, during December last year, the average value of home insurance claims received by them was £658.28, but on Boxing Day, this average soars to £2,209.31.

Apparently - according to the head honcho at Sainsbury's (one presumes its the bloke off the bacon counter) - over the Christmas period, we are at a higher risk of being burgled or, if we have our home full of friends and family, the chances of something breaking or being damaged can also increase.

My reaction? So what! What does the grocer wish us to do? Skip Christmas all together?

Maybe he should stick to his in-store bakery and tins of beans.

And leave his cheap attempts at getting in the newspapers to the politicians.

Bah humbug indeed!

Mind how you go now.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

I told you to mind how you go!!

With earthquakes that hardly trouble the Richter scale, and just one native poisonous snake, you'd think Britain was the safest country on Earth.

But that didn't stop more than a million of us ending up in accident and emergency last year - sometimes for the most bizarre of reasons.

These included three patients needing treatment after being bitten by a crocodile or alligator in the last year. The luckless trio were among 77 patients bitten by reptiles overall.

In addition, eight Britons got into a pickle with a scorpion, 12 pushed their luck with a venomous spider - and 725 had a nasty encounter with a hornet.

Fifty-five people were seen after suffering 'contact' with venomous snakes or lizards, and 22 came off worse from an encounter with a marine animal or plant.

The latest emergency hospital admissions statistics also revealed that one unidentified patient needed to see a doctor "for an illness resulting from staying too long in a weightless environment".

Another 60 Britons were seen by paramedics after being struck by lightning.

Doctors and nurses treated 4,660 dog bite injuries, with 1,369 of the victims being under 14. DIY enthusiasts also kept medical staff busy. There were 3,435 injuries while using power tools and other household machinery, and there were 452 lawnmower accidents.

Some of the other statistics might confirm suspicions over declining public services.

Amid fears that fortnightly bin collections are fuelling a boom in the numbers of vermin, it is disconcerting to note that 19 people visited a casualty department after being bitten by a rat.

Two of these victims needed to be admitted to hospital.

Equally worrying, 9,000 people were treated for illnesses contracted while in hospital and there were 162 cases of foreign objects being left in the body after surgery or other treatment.

Overall, 1,096,946 Britons were treated by casualty staff during 2006-07.

Not all of them injured themselves in such exotic ways, with more than 86,000 being hurt after "slipping, tripping or stumbling".

There were also 246 shooting victims, and nearly 6,000 people were stabbed, with all but 550 being men. On top of that, there were more than 3,500 cases of people being hit with a blunt instrument.

I told you to mind how you go didn't I?

Now - you take note.

And mind how you go.