The City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) has executed multiple warrants across the country as part of its offensive against travel insurance fraud, resulting in seven arrests.
The operations came after IFED’s awareness campaign in early summer, which urged the public to check that they are properly insured before travelling abroad. The campaign also reminded the public that exploiting a travel insurance policy to make bogus claims is a criminal offence. IFED released a video containing examples of fraudulent claims that could lead to a criminal conviction, such as exaggerating the cost of a lost camera or claiming twice for a stolen item.
“At the start of the summer holidays, we explained to the public what could count as a fraudulent travel insurance claim,” said Detective Chief Inspector Tom Hill, head of IFED. “Unfortunately, people continue to flout the law by submitting bogus claims with their travel insurer. During this enforcement period, we have seen the breadth of misfortunes that criminals will exploit for fraudulent gain – from an individual pretending to have food poisoning whilst on a Caribbean getaway, to an organised crime group with inside links to insurance companies.”
Over the past five years, IFED has received 57 referrals for travel insurance fraud, with a total estimated value of £2,393,680.51, averaging £41,994 per case.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, IFED received reports of individuals abusing travel restrictions by submitting claims for cancelled flights and non-existent holidays. With foreign travel resuming, IFED said it expects fraudsters will refocus by making claims for bogus incidents whilst on holiday.
A recent IFED investigation saw a man from Liverpool jailed for making £75,000 worth of bogus travel insurance claims by impersonating people he knew. The fraudster made 15 claims with six different insurance companies for missed or cancelled travel, using excuses such as injury or disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Travel insurance is intended to be a reassuring safety net should the worst happen, not a means of personal financial gain,” Hill said. “We hope that this period of enforcement sends a clear message to fraudsters: this type of crime will not be tolerated, and we will bring criminals to justice for their actions.”