Special Investigation Unit (SIU) sees growing number of fraud referrals following storms

Our Special Investigation Unit (SIU) is seeing a growing number of fraud referrals following the storms in February 2022. The insurance industry works really hard to help customers during a surge but we must remain vigilant to opportunist fraudsters who will look to take advantage of an already dire situation.

Whilst the vast majority of storm claims are genuine we have seen situations where the damage claimed, or part thereof, pre-dates the actual storm. Although we accept that not all will involve fraud, there has been an increase in claims where the insured are using the storms to try and get their insurance companies to pay for what are often pre-existing or maintenance issues.

The storm conditions give people an opportunity to claim for a damaged roof or wall that may have seen better days and although we are not saying this will always be considered fraud, we do need to ensure we fully validate each and every claim.

Our adjusters have been very vigilant in using the internet and obtaining historical photographs of the claimed areas of damage, which has proved essential in validating potentially fraudulent claims.

An example of this type of claim is listed below;
• Claim presented for roof and shop sign (allegedly as a result of storm in Feb 2022).

On viewing Google Street View the damage to the shop sign is clearly evident albeit the photograph was taken in 2019. It would appear that although the roof was genuinely damaged as a result of the storm, the insured has seemingly taken advantage to claim for the pre-existing damage to the shop sign.

There appears to have been an increase in this type of claim and regrettably we feel there are connections with the pandemic and the unavoidable neglect of some properties; the Covid-19 restrictions has meant a reduction in general maintenance of domestic/commercial buildings and we have seen an unprecedented number of “tip-offs” from tenants accusing their landlords of committing fraud by claiming for building damage that pre-dated the storm event. Often these tenants provide us with email exchanges with the landlords chasing for the repair of leaking roofs etc…

Although the insurance industry has a priority to ensure all genuine claims are paid quickly, our SIU remains vigilant throughout any surge as we are always mindful that fraudsters will look to take advantage of every situation.