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Middle-class workers manipulate price comparison sites to get cheap insurance quote face crackdown

The Insurance Fraud Task Force recommends that price comparison websites should report ‘suspicious’ activity

Middle-class workers who “game” the insurance system using price comparison websites will face a new crackdown under plans being considered by ministers.

The Insurance Fraud Task Force, an official body set up by the Government, has recommended that price comparison websites should refer “suspicious” activity to insurance companies.

It is concerned that some people are illegally “manipulating” their details on the websites to obtain the cheapest quote possible.

The task force found that up to a third of motorists believe it is acceptable to “omit or adjust data” to reduce their car insurance premium

It said that while in some cases this can be part of a “legitimate effort to shop around”, in others it is a “tell-tale sign of fraud” such as the deliberate omission of driving offences.

The report states that at present the exchange of “anti-fraud data” between price comparison websites and insurers is “minimal”.

However Go Compare, one of the biggest price comparison websites, said that “genuine and honest customers” who legitimately tweak their details to gain better quotes must not be affected. While lying in applications is illegal, a careful choice of the words people use to describe their job can reduce car insurance premiums by as much as 25 per cent.

Insurers attribute higher levels of risk to different job descriptions which may be used by people in the same profession.

Cate Wright, fraud manager at Gocompare.com, said: “The report demonstrates a clear commitment from the government and the insurance industry to tackle fraud at every possible opportunity.
“As a comparison website, we consider it to be our duty to step in and help fight fraud where we can, but tackling insurance fraud – and its consequences, such as higher insurance premiums for all policyholders – is not a task that can be achieved without full collaboration from across the insurance industry.
“Data sharing has to be effective in all directions so that fraudulent and legitimate applications can be more accurately identified – we don’t want genuine and honest customers to be affected in any way.”

The report states: “Price comparison websites are uniquely positioned to detect fraud at the application stage yet they do not share intelligence with insurers on suspicious consumer behaviour as effectively as they could.

“They are well placed to spot behaviour such as manipulating application details to achieve a cheaper quote. In many cases this can be part of legitimate efforts to shop around but it can also be a tell-tale sign of application fraud, for example where driving offences have been modified or omitted.
“By sharing data more effectively and taking a more robust approach to fraud prevention, aggregators could stop fraudulent applications before they were ever completed.”

Ministers are considering the report’s recommendations.

The biggest legitimate annual saving that people can make is by changing their job title for a similar one in the same profession. A quote of £487 is given for a “fashion photographer” with One Call Insurance, whereas a “photographer” can save £127.

People can also save 10 per cent by putting down “care assistant” instead of “nurse”, while similar savings can be made by officials who describe themselves as a civil servant instead of an administrative clerk.

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