Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Insurance Claims to Face Lie-Detector Test; Firms Employ MI5-Style Device to Curb Alarming Rise in Fraudsters

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Insurance Claims to Face Lie-Detector Test; Firms Employ MI5-Style Device to Curb Alarming Rise in Fraudsters

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID WILLIAMS

LEADING high street insurers are fitting their phone lines with lie detectors to counter an unprecedented number of fraudulent claims.

Firms are resorting to sophisticated MI5-type technology after suffering spiralling losses estimated at between [pound]2 billion and [pound]3 billion last year.

This is compared with [pound]650 million five years ago.

One of the worst-hit sectors is the [pound]4.5 billion-a-year motor insurance industry, where false claims now cost insurers tens of millions of pounds.

More than 10 per cent of all claims are now believed to be fraudulent. If it is not halted, every householder and motorist in Britain faces further sharp premium rises to cover the losses.

The first firm to use the sophisticated system is Highway Insurance in Brentwood. It is Britain's eighth-largest insurer.

Other major firms are closely monitoring the scheme and say privately that they will launch their own screening operations.

Highway will switch on its "voice stress analysers" in March, enabling investigators to pinpoint callers not telling the truth.

The hi-tech devices monitor the claimant's vocal pitch and tone during a normal conversation, alerting claims handlers to any unexpected variations caused by

lying. Operators are being trained to take callers through an exacting pre-set catalogue of questions designed to expose deceit, and are being told how to recognise near-imperceptible signs of dishonesty.

If a potential fraudster is detected, a prompt appears on the screen enabling the insurer to send in the investigators.

Fraud experts will also analyse written statements for telltale signs of dishonesty - and check the suspect's background as part of a range of checks before approaching the claimant.

In a separate development, leading insurers are drawing up a comprehensive "black list" database of suspect claimants. …

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