ABI-backed unit to target criminal gangs who work with professions including doctors and solicitors
Dishonest GPs are among a range of professionals being targeted by a new police-backed organisation aiming to tackle insurance fraud.
The Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED), which opens its doors this week, is an operationally independent unit run by the City of London Police and supported by the Association of British Insurers (ABI).
Part of the IFED's remit will be to target criminal networks which are understood to be using an increasing number of “professional enablers” – doctors, solicitors, vets – to expand their operations and increase the threat against the insurance industry.
Examples of fraud can include claims for whiplash following car accidents which themselves can either be genuine or orchestrated.
While private medical insurance fraud is a relatively small problem compared to other types of insurance-related crime, it is nonetheless a major issue and one that is being tackled by the Health Insurance Counter Fraud Group. However, the IFED’s focus will be on motor insurance, commercial and public liability fraud and illegal insurance advisers.
The 34-strong team will be based at the City of London Police’s New Street office in the capital.
Nick Starling, the ABI’s director of general insurance, said insurers are “determined” to protect honest customers by reducing insurance fraud.
He said: “This police unit is an important initiative as insurers intensify their crackdown on insurance fraudsters. The message could not be clearer: now more than ever anyone making a dishonest insurance claim is not only more likely to get caught, but risks getting a criminal record and certainly more expensive and harder to obtain insurance and other financial products in the future.”
It is estimated that insurance fraud costs the UK economy £3bn each year and adds on average £50 to each insurance policy.