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Thomas Hickey

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The British Standards Institution has awarded Xchanging, the global business processor, to the management system standard in recognition of its high quality business continuity planning.

The Business Continuity Management System (BCMS) certificate covers the provision of premium, policy and settlement processing services to the insurance market. Xchanging met the strict standards set out by BSI in areas such as strategy, governance, documentation, staff awareness and testing exercises.

Xchanging is the first service provider in the insurance market to be awarded the certification.

Commenting on the achievement Nigel Knight, Head of BCP & DR, UK Xchanging Plc said, “We are very proud of all the hard work that has gone into achieving this qualification, which was a rigorous undertaking.

“The BSI auditor was highly complementary about the quality of our staff and praised their enthusiasm. It has since been confirmed that Xchanging is the first and only insurance service provider to hold this certificate, so it is fantastic to be leading the pack with our services to the market in this area.”

Lorna Anderson, EMEA Business Continuity Expert at BSI added, “Business continuity is not a one-off activity. It needs to evolve with the organisation. The key to this is thinking about what may happen and taking appropriate steps as demonstrated by Xchanging. A further endorsement to the company’s commitment is having it independently assessed by BSI.”

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The earthquake which occured in the Philippines this week is expected to cost the regions economy around USD1 billion (£629m) but only USD100 million (£63m) of this is expected to fall on insurers, EQECAT has estimated.

EQECAT, the US based catestrophe risk management firm, said low insurance coverage in the region will mean insurers will only foot the bill of a fraction of the complete cost of repairs.

The madnitude 6.7 quake occurred on Monday the 6th of February and was followed by a series of strong aftershocks. Landslides, extensive damage and casualties have been reported.

The epicentre of the quake was some 600 kilometers south of the capital, Manilla. Very minor shaking was experienced in the capital.

The main expenses for insurers are expected to come from landslides and damage to older building from the shaking. Most of the countries earthquake resistant buildings escaped with little to no damage.

Exposure is changing rapidly in the region due to growing economic development. Buildings are often built on stilts to protect them from flood damage, however all building types are vulnerable to landslides.

Approximately 1 million people were exposed to violent shaking on Monday when the quake struck. Damage and casualties are expected to be concentrated in the vicinity of the epicenter, including Guihulngan City which has a population of 100,000.

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TomTom, the Belgium satnav company, has joined the insurance industry by partnering with broker Motaquote.

The GPS innovating company is branching out to the insurance sector to provide the technology behind a new insurance product which bases premium prices on driver behaviour rather than demographic information, much like telematics technology.

The need for such technology is becoming more and more obvious, with an UE gender equality law making it illegal to base the price on premiums on gender statistics.

Motaquote and TomTom’s answer to this problem is their new product Fair Play Insurance, where they “reward ‘good’ drivers with lower premiums”.

“Our entry in the insurance market with our proven fleet management technology puts us at the forefront of a move that could help to revolutionise the motor insurance industry,” said Thomas Schmidt, Managing Director TomTom Business Solutions.

“We offer a unique combination of navigation, traffic information and telematics which opens up great opportunities for insurance companies to promote greener, safer driving and create a ground breaking portfolio of new insurance products.”

“We are delighted Motaquote have recognised this potential in the launch of such an innovative product.”

Fair Pay Insurance gives drivers control over their own policy by using driving ability and behaviour to allocate premiums, rather than so-called risk factors such as postcode, gender, and age or vehicle type.

“We’ve dispensed with generalisations and said to our customers, if you believe you’re a good driver, we’ll believe you and we’ll even give you the benefit up front,” said Nigel Lombard, Managing Director of Fair Pay Insurance.

“This is unlike some other telematics-based schemes where you may have to prove your ability over a number of months. So if you think of your insurance as your car’s MPG – the better you drive, the longer your fuel will last. It’s the same with Fair Pay Insurance, good drivers get more for their money and in that sense they will pay ultimately less.”

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The biggest Finnish insurance group Sampo reported on Thursday a dip in 2011 net profit to €1.038 billion euros (£870m), eight percent less than a year earlier.

The outcome was “a good result despite capital market uncertainty”, a company statement said, before adding that its board would propose a dividend of €1.20 per share.

Company CEO Kari Stadigh added, “Overall, for the year 2012, we see Sampo well-positioned and there is no reason why it would not continue reaching the long-term target of a combined ratio of under 95 per cent.”

Pre-tax profit in the property and casualty insurance division fell to 636 million euros from 707 million a year earlier as market uncertainty resulted in lower investment returns, the company said.

Earnings from Sampo’s 21.3 percent stake in Nordea Bank contributed 534 million euros to the bottom line, up slightly from 523 million a year earlier.

Pre-tax profit in the life insurance business came in at 137 million euros in 2011, down marginally from 142 million, “despite the challenging investment markets,” the company said.

Sampo Group’s business areas were expected to report good operating results for 2012, the company forecast, but warned that once again, the results would depend on market developments.

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While most of the insurance risk headlines center around natural disasters, political risks can often have equally damaging effects on the sector.

According to Aon Risk Solution’s latest Political Risk Map which was released on Wednesday, the political tension coming from the ‘Arab Spring’ remains a key concern for companies with operations in the area.

The company performed a survey of 167 countries and territories measuring the risk level of exchange transfer, sovereign non-payment, political interference, supply chain disruption, legal and regulatory, and political violence.

If found that the countries recently involved in the ‘Arab Spring’ had the highest amount of risk.

“These uprisings and protests remain a key concern in 2012 and we see this reflected in rating downgrades of several countries,” said Roger Schwartz, senior vice president of political risk for Aon Risk Solutions’ Crisis Management Practice.

“This is forcing CEOs and CFOs of businesses with overseas operations in emerging markets to revisit risk management and risk mitigation measures.”

The other key political risk outlined in the report was the upcoming elections in the US, France, Russia and China will also potentially contribute to greater global uncertainty.

The eurozone debt crisis was another significant risk.

According to Aon, the risk map “provides an indication of overall levels and types of political risk, which relates to the actions or inactions of foreign governments, including third-party countries which may deprive a business of its assets, prevent or restrict the performance of a contract and affect repayment of loans to financing banks.”

Each country is given a rating according to the different types of risk it faces. In this years report there were three countries which had lower risk than last year, but 21 who’s risk rating had increased.

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A new product to help businesses comply with Solvency II has been released today. Oracle Insurance announced their newest product, ‘Applications for Risk and Solvency II Compliance’ on Wednesday which is aimed at helping businesses better manage their capital and achieve better financial results.

The new development is the latest addition the Oracle Financial Services Analytical Applications suite of products. This range of products give insurers a view of risk across areas including insurance, market, operational, credit, liquidity and underwriting.

“To comply with Solvency II, insurers in Europe need to assess how they manage all solvency related data as the EIOPA December 2013 deadline approaches,” said S. Ramakrishnan, group vice president and general manager of Oracle Financial Services Analytical Applications.

“Oracle’s offering for Solvency II, based on Oracle Financial Services Analytical Applications, provides insurers with a ready-to-deploy solution that can accelerate the speed of compliance and reduce complexity.

“It can provide the unified view of risk, finance and actuarial information that insurers require to optimize capital allocation and better position their organizations for success,”

The new product equips life, non-life, health and re-insurance institutions operating across multiple jurisdictions, to quickly understand and address Solvency II requirements, create a long-term solution to manage all of their data centrally and better manage their operational and market risks – all on a single unified platform.

By leveraging the data quality, integrity, reconciliation and lineage tools available within the applications, insurers can increase the quality of their Solvency II reporting and related risk management processes. Workflows, notifications, security and full audit capabilities enable insurers to effectively address the Own Risk and Solvency Assessment.

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Fitch have affirmed the Friends Life Group’s Insurer Financial Strength (IFS) rating at ‘A+’ because of the agency’s “continued expectation that the group will achieve substantial efficiencies” in the year ahead. The outlook on the rating is stable.

Fitch said the groups synergies between Friends Life and the AXA UK Life businesses, which was acquired in September 2012, will continue to enhance the cash generation of the group.

They also noted the groups cost cutting success. At half-year 2011 the group had achieved £24 million of its planned annual cost saving (£112 million by 2013). The ratings agency said that failure to keep up with its savings targets would put negative pressure on the group.

Despite regulatory capital falling by £300 million (the result of a £350 million dividend paid in early 2011) last year, Fitch continues to view the groups capitalisation as strong.

Fitch added that they had concerns about the groups low UK profitability. However Friends Life have already taken this into account by reducing its costs and developing its annuity capabilities, with the aim of increasing its retention of pension savings policyholders at retirement to 50 per cent.

The agency finished by adding that an upgrade is unlikely in the near future given that the company’s current rating already factors in Fitch’s expectation of improved profitability.

“The ratings may be downgraded if Friends Life is unable to improve its profitability, achieving an annual operating return on assets in excess of 0.40% as calculated by Fitch, and a material reduction in the overall payback period for new business.”

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IT-Freedom has become the latest company to get behind I Love Claims, with the company announcing a corporate sponsorship of the website on Wednesday.

I Love Claims is “a collaboration of like minded individuals and business brought together … to create a platform for communication and promote an ethos of working together more efficiently in the interest of the customer.”

With the sponsorship, IT-Freedom joins the likes of More Th>n, RSA and The National Accident Repair Group.

Through the agreement IT-Freedom will participate in industry groups to help insurers with best practice for the management of motor claims.

Mick Sargeant, Managing Director of IT-Freedom commented on the new deal, “We were keen to sponsor I Love Claims as we believe that this is a great forum to further discussion for the management of motor claims.

“As IT-Freedom is now established as the leading supplier of claims management software in the UK, we are in a good position to share insight gained from our experience with the motor industry.

“We are experienced in helping insurers to increase efficiency, reduce costs and the risk of fraud. By engaging in direct dialogue with the many claims professionals associated with I Love Claims we will contribute to the resolution of the specific challenges that the motor insurance industry faces.”

Chris Ashworth, Chairman of I Love Claims, added, “We welcome IT-Freedom as the latest website sponsor. As the organisation grows, insight on claims technology from organisations such as IT-Freedom will become increasingly valuable and important to our members.”

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Lloyd’s Channel Syndicate (2015) has appointed a new member of the Financial Lines Division.

Kevin Cleary will be the syndicates new Class Underwriter of the Directors and Officers account. Kevin has worked in the London, UK Regional and European markets for over 10 years, and will report to Martin Campbell, the Head of the Financial Lines Division.

Tom Corfield, Active Underwriter of The Channel Syndicate said “We are very pleased that Kevin is joining the syndicate and welcome the breadth of experience that he brings to the Financial Lines Division.

“With this addition the syndicate will be underwriting the full suite of Financial Institutions, Professional Indemnity and Management Liability products”.

The Channel Syndicate was authorised by Lloyd’s in the fourth quarter 2010 to write Property Direct and Facultative, Accident and Health, Marine and Financial Lines for risks incepting on or after January 1st 2011.

Syndicate 2015 has a stamp capacity of £75 million fully provided by SCOR SE. The Channel Syndicate is managed by Whittington Capital Management Ltd.

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Amlin Insurance has joined the growing group of insurers raising their prices, as the flow on effect from last years natural disasters begins to reach customers.

An influx of policy renewals in January teamed with a strong demand for catastrophe reinsurance saw renewal prices rise 4 per cent last month for the company, in comparison with a 1.3 per cent drop the year before.

The increase was driven by its catastrophe reinsurance business, where prices for business written in London and Bermuda rose an average 15.9 percent.

“Unprecedented catastrophe loss activity in 2011 has prompted a notable uplift in reinsurance rates,” Amlin said.

Last year was the second most costly year on record, with the insurance industry absorbing around USD108 billion in claims (£68b). The only year to have ever exceeded this was 2005 when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.

The company also released a revised update on losses from some recent events.

They estimated that the Thailand Floods at the end of last year would cost the company between £50 and £70 million, net of reinsurance recoveries. The total insured cost of the floods has been estimated at between £8 and £20 billion.

Amlin also said that the grounding of the Costa Concordia is expected to cost in excess of a billion pounds and Amlin will be responsible for less than £10 million of this (net of reinsurance recoveries).

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Lloyd’s Banking Group announced on Tuesday that almost 1,000 workers will be out of the job as part of a broader cost cutting plan announced last year.

The jobs will come from the divisions of insurance, wholesale, risk, group executive functions and group operations.

Last June, Lloyd’s CEO Antonio Horta-Osorio announced plans to cut 15,00 jobs and half Lloyd’s international presence as part of a restructuring aimed at saving £1.5 billion pounds per year. The Group said the latest announced staff reductions are a part of that plan.

In a statement released today, the Group said that mandatory reductions will be a last resort.

“Lloyds Banking Group is committed to working through these changes with employees in a careful and sensitive way.

“The Group’s policy is always to use natural turnover and to redeploy people wherever possible to retain their expertise and knowledge within the Group.

“Where it is necessary for employees to leave the company, it will look to achieve this by offering voluntary redundancy.

“Compulsory redundancies will always be a last resort.”

Lloyd’s is 40 per cent government owned after the company received a state bailout in the 2008 financial crisis.

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To mark the centenary of the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) gaining its Royal Charter, on 5 February 1912, the Institute is undertaking a major research project. The programme will consider the changing nature of risk, reflecting on the risks of the last 100 years and considering those that the next 100 years will bring.

Over the course of the year the CII will publish a series of seven reports, each one focusing on one of four particular aspects of risk over the coming decades. The four themes will be – socio-economic, medical and demographic, environment and technology.

Each report will have an analysis section reviewing pertinent past trends and their implications alongside a number of expert essays by external contributors setting out their opinions and views on the future.

The first report ‘Future risk: Learning from history’ begins with a discussion of some of the key trends over the last century, and the important lessons that can be learned from a careful historical analysis. It also contains some preliminary findings from a global opinion poll into the public’s perceptions of future risks.

David Thomson, director of policy and public affairs, said, “We face a huge range of global challenges from the current financial crisis and subsequent Eurozone sovereign debt problems through to the continuing increase in population and life expectancy, along with the increasing threat of catastrophic weather events that global warming brings.

“The insurance and financial services sectors must remain one step ahead of these issues to provide the advice and risk management on which clients rely.

“Our centenary series of reports seek to highlight some of the actions and choices we must address if we are to manage the risks and continue to secure the security, health and prosperity of clients in the next 100 years.”

A copy of  the first report, ‘Future risk: Learning from history’ and further details on the research programme can be found here.

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Xchanging today unveiled its vision for the Lloyd’s and London insurance market. Members of the Xchanging senior management team presented their ideas to 120 senior market executives about cementing London’s standing as a leading global hub for insurance.

The presentation highlighted the importance of London becoming a more attractive business place in order to remain competitive for a broad spectrum of carriers and brokers.  Xchanging said that if the right moves were made now London had the potential not only to make this happen but to be far ahead of other markets within five years.

Xchanging said that in order to achieve these goals the pace of change needs to be stepped up to make the most of potential business that could be flowing into London. Doing this could bring 20% more business to London, which would equate to an additional £7 billion flowing annually through the region.

The company also stated that the ‘modernisation’ required to attain these goals could be achieved in one of three different ways.
“We need to be brave and start this process now” urged Jim Sadler, CIO, Xchanging Insurance Services.

“This does not lead us down the expensive and perhaps untimely paths of the past, but rather allows us to make a start of the journey, while allowing businesses the flexibility to consider the next best steps to achieve the prize of the modernisation of the London market.”

Sadler demonstrated the options available to the market, depending on their own appetite for risk and cost. The three scenarios outlined were:

– To transform policy and claims together
– Transform policy first
– More gradual incremental change

The first two options are transformational and therefore attract a higher level of risk, however in all three scenarios the preparation for the next 12-18 months is identical. Which choice the market  selects will depend on how much risk it is willing to take, the views on the market’s ability to absorb process and cultural change over a period of time, and how prepared the market is to fund developments.

Xchanging said they are doing everything they can to support the challenges facing the market by  renewing its strategy, vision and leadership to help drive change in the market. The recent appointments of Geoff Unwin and Bill Thomas to the Xchanging Board, Andrew Binns to the Executive Committee, and Jim Sadler and John Niblett to the London Market technology team demonstrate this, they said.

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The PPI remediation guidelines that have been issued by the FSA will be impossible for UK insurers and other financial institutions to achieve without significant, rapid investment, Charter UK reported on Tuesday.

Payment Protection Insurance compensation has already proved a significant problem for the sector, having to cough up over £1 billion in payouts in the past year.

The main problem, according to Charter UK, is that the FSA has “completely underestimated the processes and resources that banks and other financial services organisations will need to implement in order to comply the FSA’s rigid deadlines for remediating and managing existing PPI complaints.”

If the FSA decides to stick to the guidelines in their current form, the industry is almost certainly going to fail to meet the requirements, Charter warned.

Paul Clark, CEO of Charter UK said, “the FSA guidelines in their current format are nigh-on difficult for the industry to achieve. If the guidelines are not reviewed, financial institutions need to urgently review the systems they have in place to deal with this problem.

“Those firms that have invested in dedicated complaints handling technology solutions are in a much better position to cope than those relying on legacy systems and processes – but we are going to see some epic failures across the industry if the guidelines are maintained in their current state.”

The FSA’s guidance on ‘root cause analysis’ currently obligates firms to look at all previous PPI complaints they’ve received in order to identify any systematic failings in their sales procedures and complaints handling.At this stage, any consumers that may have been affected by these failings will need to be contacted and offered redress for any losses – even if they haven’t actually complained.

Huge numbers of PPI claims are already overwhelming the banks and other financial companies, with a growing number of frustrated customers now taking their cases to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). As a result, PPI complaints currently make up more than half of the FOS’s total workload.

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Broker ASSESS, an online training and competency program for insurance brokers, has been named Learning Technology Solution of the Year at the Learning and Performance Institute’s (LPI)  Learning Awards for 2012.

The awards received a record number of entries, and were presented at a gala dinner hosted by Sharron Davies at The Dorchester on 2 February.

Broker ASSESS was developed by the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA), the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) and Unicorn Training. They received the award on Thursday evening for what the judges described as “a really effective use of learning technologies, and as such represents significantly more than conventional eLearning.

“It covers core skills, development and CPD. The program clearly demonstrates that, whilst technology is important, content is critical.”

Kirsty Wingrove, Head of Membership at BIBA, commented, “The system has had a huge impact helping many brokers. This award is a testament to the hard work of the broker ASSESS team and the brokers on the working groups who have helped to developed the system. We are delighted with this recognition.”

Scot Grimmer, CII Broker Academy Manager, hinted that there is more to come, “This is just the start. Over the coming months we plan to provide even more support to our 30,000 users with a summer launch of new regulatory content, more interactive cases studies and new functions like online appraisals and file checking.”

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Scott Egan, Chief Financial Officer of Brit Insurance, has today announced his plan to move to Towergate Insurance where he will take on the role of Group Finance Director.

Egan agreed to remain with Brit Insurance until early summer 2012 to ensure a seamless transition.

While a search for a full time successor has commenced, Nigel Meyer, current Deputy Chief Financial Officer will assume additional responsibilities supported by Anthony Usher, Group Financial Controller. They will report directly to Mark Cloutier, Group CEO.

Commenting on the announcement, Mark Cloutier, Group CEO, said, “Scott has been a good colleague and we are sorry to see him go. We wish him well in his new role.”

Brit Insurance will publish their preliminary results for last year at the end of the month.

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55 per cent of the UK’s biggest insurance companies are foreign owned, according to a recent report from TheCityUK, UK Trade & Investment and IMAS Corporate Finance.

The report found that, while private ownership is the most common form of control for the general insurance sector, bigger companies (worth more than £100 million) are predominately foriegn owned.

The report also revealed the US as the dominant ownership territory.

The main ownership findings were:

Of the 356 ‘small’ companies (valued at less that £25 million) 88 per cent were owned in the UK.
Of the 115 ‘medium’ companies (valued at between £25 and £100 million) 74 per cent were UK owned.
Of the 143 ‘large’ companies (valued at more than £100 million) only 45 per cent are UK owned.

According to the report ‘UK Financial Services Industry Annual Review Ownership, Value and M&A Developments’ which looked at ownership of organisations all over the financial services sector, insurance makes up of a fifth of the whole financial services industry.

Chris Cummings, Chief Executive of TheCityUK said, “This report shows that the UK is tremendously successful in attracting significant levels of overseas investment into our financial services sector.

“Combined with domestic ownership, this has created an industry that accounts for nearly 9% of the UK’s total economic output.

“Therefore it’s vitally important, both to our financial services sector and the wider economy, that the UK continues to be open and attractive to inward investment.”

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Around 100 homes have been evacuated in Essex after a bust water main caused flooding.

Emergency services were alerted to water flowing through homes at South Woodham Ferrers on Tuesday morning.

Residents in East Bridge Road called police around 6.30AM to report water rushing from a drain was inundating around 100 houses.

Engineers from the Essex and Suffolk Water Company are being assisted by police in trying to locate the source of the flooding.

Peter Blackman, a local resident and NHS co-ordinator for the town said the pipe seemed to be behing some houses, the BBC reported.

Blackham said, “A lot of people are quite upset because we’ve got a lot of water around.

“Everybody is here to do the necessary, it’s just a case of trying to sort out what’s happening and trying to stem the flood. It looks like a mini river.”

He said there were around 10 police vehicles and 4 fire vehicles on site.Two miles away the Riverside Primary School in Hullbridge is also closed due to a burst water main.

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A growing number of Brits are exagerating their home insurance claims, according to AXA Insurance.

Research from the company suggest that the number of people exagerating claims has jumped by as much as 17 per cent in 2012, with around 200,000 customers adding an average £607 to their claims in the last 12 months.

AXA data shows that tens of thousands of their customers were caught out trying to exagerate claims over the last couple of years.

The company warned that making exagerations on a claim can sometimes mean that the entire claim is turned down.

“Ultimately, if consumers get caught out they run the risk of having the whole claim turned down as well as facing problems getting insurance in the future,” Steve Gaywood, head of fraud at AXA Insurance, commented.

“It is not a victimless crime, honest customers end up footing the bill through higher premiums as insurers pass on the additional costs of inflated claims.”

Last year, the company revealed that exaggerated claims added as much as £13 to every home insurance policy.

This year’s data suggests that as money continues to be tight, insurance is still seen as a soft target for making a bit of extra cash. In fact the research revealed that 12% of people would be more likely to consider making an exaggerated claim now than three years ago. The data also revealed that only 45% of people consider an exaggerated claim to be dishonest.

London was the worst place for exaggerating claims, not just by number but also by value. The research also suggests that men are nearly twice as likely as women to have exaggerated a claim.

As well as exaggerating claims, consumers were asked what other kinds of behaviour they considered to be dishonest when making a claim.

– 58% considered it was not dishonest to neglect to mention previous claims
– 56% believed it was not dishonest to say windows/doors were shut or locked at the time of the theft when in fact they weren’t
– 48% felt it was okay to submit a receipt belonging to someone else in order to make a claim
– 43% believed deliberately damaging an item to make a claim was not being dishonest

Gaywood continued, “As an industry we are well aware that these things go on and we are introducing measures all the time to try and reduce the amount of fraud that occurs. In the past year, AXA introduced CUE for home insurance and also have a team in place that is dedicated to reducing fraudulent activity.”

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If you have medical insurance through your work and you switch companies or retire, you are sometimes given a ‘group leaver option’, enabling you to continue with the cover even without your work.

But according to the Association of Medical Insurance Intermediaries (AMII) this practice often takes advantage of employees and they end up being charged far more than need be.

“For those wanting to continue with medical insurance, they should most definitely use this opportunity to shop around,” said Debbie Kleiner-Gaines from AMII.

“Although cover for pre-existing conditions should always be a major consideration, that aside they may find a better deal elsewhere both in terms of cost and overall cover.”

For example, in one instance the group leaver option quote was £320 per month for a man aged 40 with a family moving from his engineering job in the Midlands to a new job in the same area, whereas shopping around he could get the same cover for £146 per month.

And a man taking retirement at aged 60 could get similar cover for £228 per month whereas his group leaver option quote was £280 per month.

Kleiner-Gaines continued that sometimes it is “worth considering taking the Group Leaver Option when you are in the middle of a claim and need continuation of cover but don’t forget that when that treatment is over, you can look at switching but with an intermediary holding your hand,”

“Apathy means too often people accept what they are offered by their existing provider without shopping around.

“With medical insurance, it is always worth checking with a local specialist intermediary to see if the best deal and most importantly appropriate cover have been offered.

“If they then find they already have the best option they’ve lost nothing but gained important peace of mind.”