Producers have ‘natural ability’ to deflate 45% increase in questionable claims

Questionable personal property claims continue to rise, but one industry figure believes producers could usurp the upsurge.

Suspicious personal property claims increased by more than 45% from 2010 to 2012, a new report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau revealed this week. However, a spokesperson for the group believes producers could play a vital role in bringing that number down in the coming years.

The 2010-2012 Suspicious Personal Property Claims Report revealed that questionable claims were up 46% in the two-year time period, with 72% of claims associated with homeowners policies. Another 3% were related to commercial or business owners policies.

Other data compiled in the report was fairly typical, said Frank Scafidi, director of public affairs for the NICB. For instance, high-population centers like Houston, Chicago and Detroit reported the most suspicious claims during the two-year period, and Monday was by far the most frequently occurring weekday by loss, as vacationers return to a ransacked home or office.

However, Scafidi said producers have an important role to play in decreasing these unfortunate trends, and it’s one that plays to their natural strengths.

“If you’ve got somebody coming through the door that has larceny in their heart, agents and brokers are pretty good at sniffing them out from the get go,” said Scafidi. “They have a natural ability to identify evasive answers and other warning signs.”

Scafidi recommended producers be very thorough when writing home or business owners policies, or scheduling high-ticket items.

“When you go to write a policy, make sure you ask that customer very specific questions about what they have in their house that could be a high-dollar value that might be lost in a burglary or theft,” he said. “Obviously, the higher the value, the more diligence brokers need to put forth to make sure items insured are actually in existence and show some proof of worth.”

Scafidi also recommended that producers make a written record of their conversations with clients, as well as have clients sign a waiver when they deny coverage for a high-value item.

While Scafidi emphasized that the 45% increase in suspicious claims is still less than 1% of total claims filed for the same period, he acknowledged that the uptick was important to analysts, carriers, producers, and others involved in insurance fraud.

“Every little tickle means something,” he said.


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