Ecclesiastical tackles fraudsters in crackdown on false claims

06 February 2024

Ecclesiastical Insurance has successfully saved over £3million challenging fraudulent claims during 2023 - £200,000 more than in 2022.

Ecclesiastical Insurance’s claims team detected over 230 cases of fraudulent activity during 2023, including cases of claims submitted for alleged slips, trips and falls on premises ranging from hotels, educational settings and heritage properties, which were proven false following investigation.

Last year brought record levels of fraudulent claims, exceeding any previous years recorded by the specialist insurer.

The specialist insurer saw a substantial increase in fraudulent claims relating to single high value personal items such as watches or rings, up 50% year on year.

Ecclesiastical also saw a marked increase in fraudulent claims being submitted during stormy weather. These included claims submitted for pre-existing damage to properties when storms occurred (known as fabrication) and where previous damage was included in claims for legitimate new damage, increasing the value of the overall claim (known as exaggeration).

In the casualty space, Ecclesiastical’s legal teams were able to successfully defend customers from fraudulent claims often without having to go to trial.

Examples of fraudulent claims successfully defended include:

  • A claimant stated they had sustained a back injury at work but was seen in a TikTok video being picked up and swung around with no issues
  • A claim submitted for damage to the roof and guttering of a property following a recent storm, however, Google Streetview revealed the damage was present in 2017
  • One claim stated they had lost a watch while riding a rollercoaster on holiday in Florida, however when asked to provide evidence of ownership the claimant said they found the watch in a coat pocket worn the night before
  • Another was submitted when an individual alleged that they tripped over a mat that was sticking up. Following enquiries, a witness said the claimant wasn’t looking where they were going and simply tripped over the edge of a normal mat
  • Other claims, including some for high-value items, were rejected when no evidence was provided to support the claims, and claimants subsequently withdrawing once challenged

Through in-depth investigation and, where necessary legal proceedings, the specialist insurer’s claims team was able to save the company over over £1.8million in property claims - which saw a 21% increase in fraudulent claims on 2022 – and £1.2million in casualty claims.

Fraudulent claims are estimated to cost the insurance industry billions each year, with the ABI placing the figure at £1.1billion1 in 2022.

By taking action to prevent these claims and make the savings Ecclesiastical has been able to keep costs down, helping to maintain competitive prices – a major concern for customers during the ongoing cost of living crisis.

Jeremy Trott, Claims Director at Ecclesiastical Insurance, said: “Insurance fraud is a crime that continues to cost insurance companies, and ultimately customers, billions of pounds each year. We’ve seen some trends emerging, including those related to storm damage where claims have been fabricated or exaggerated when storms have occurred – but also for high-value jewellery items, such as watches and rings.

“With the UK continuing to experience economic volatility, businesses and households are already faced with difficult financial pressures – which is why it is so important that we keep our premiums low. By investing time, money and effort into pursuing false claims and dealing with them in the strongest means possible we can help to deter would be fraudsters and help protect our customers.”

Learn more about Ecclesiastical’s award-winning Claims service.