Travel Trouble

Tue, 28 Aug, 2018Danielle McCarthy

Traveller’s own blunder exposes him as insurance fraudster

Traveller’s own blunder exposes him as insurance fraudster

A dishonest traveller has been exposed of insurance fraud after making a series of blunders in his insurance claim.

The traveller told his insurer, 1Cover Travel Insurance, that he had been robbed of his backpack and brand new $6300 DSLR camera while holidaying in Fiji.

According to the dramatic story, he jumped in his car to pursue the thief but lost him.

He claimed that he then informed local police, who launched an investigation but were unable to reclaim his belongings.

The fraudster lodged a claim with 1Cover and provided all the necessary documents, including the proof of purchase of the stolen Canon DSLR.

Although the dodgy receipt included details of the Visa payment and the Brisbane store he claimed to have bought it from, the fraudster overlooked some glaring errors.

The word “taxable” had been misspelt “tacable”, “basement” in the store’s address was spelt “basemant” and “approved” had only one ‘p’ – leading the insurance company to correctly deduce that this was a bogus claim.

Sadly, false travel insurance claims are costing Australians more than $2.2 billion each year.

“This example is just one of the many instances of dishonest people trying to cheat insurers and their more trustworthy customers,” Comparetravelinsurance.com.au director Natalie Ball told news.com.au.

“The average fraudster isn’t photoshopping receipts for items never purchased for holidays that never happened, though — it’s more often exaggerating the value of stolen luggage, claiming items against both a stand-alone and credit card policy, or misrepresenting misplaced items as stolen.”

Distorting the truth or submitting an outright lie to an insurance company is not a victimless crime, with the law supporting insurers.

“While some people like to convince themselves that this is a victimless crime — a big insurer won’t miss $800, right? — it’s important to understand that the insurer reserves the right to go to the police, which can lead to charges,” said Richard Warburton, the chief operating officer of 1Cover Travel Insurance.

“In the digital world that we live in, fraud detection has become more sophisticated and information can be validated regardless of where you’ve been travelling.

“The team at 1Cover are well versed at identifying flawed stories and odd receipts. We also have access to private investigators for more complex claims.”

Insurance fraudsters could face fines and jail time for their crimes, including a maximum sentence of 10 years in Victoria and NSW and five years in Queensland.

Insurance companies can also add fraudsters to “Do Not Insure” backlists, which would make it almost impossible to get health, car or home insurance in the future.

Investigating fake claims also drains money from companies, forcing everyone to pay more through higher premiums.

“Even when fraudsters are caught, any staff time or resources used to process or investigate fake claims costs travel insurers and their customers’ money,” Ms Ball said.

To avoid falling for dodgy scams, travel insurers often take up to 10 business days for claims to be processed and require sufficient evidence to support a claim.

“Waiting a few business days might seem inconvenient for customers but it’s important for insurers to be prudent in catching the fakes to keep travel insurance affordable for everyone,” Ms Ball said.

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