Thursday, February 07, 2013

Considering Insurance Fraud?

I know, Dear Reader, I am breaking my own rule and commenting on a currently active investigation but this is one, I think, you will appreciate.

If you are going to make an insurance claim, particularly in  unusual circumstances, it's best that you cover all your bases and check your facts lest something seemingly insignificant trip you up.  

Take Mrs Summers (not her real name), for example, who awoke one fine morning to discover her beloved vehicle had been apparently stolen and damaged in some gratuitous joy-riding, then courteously returned by the thieves.

Yep, somewhat unlikely, I thought to myself.

However, you can't go into an investigation without an open mind, so putting my doubts aside I proceeded to interview Mrs Summers and make such area enquiries in the neighbourhood as is standard practice.

The vehicle, a mid-'90s european, had a smashed windscreen and extensive scrapes and dents on both sides, almost as if driven through a slightly too narrow opening. It was not damage consistent with being swiped by a passing car, for example.

After conducting my routine enquiries, the sum of information I had to work with was:

  • It had been last seen the evening prior by Mrs Summers, who had parked it on the street in front of the neighbour's house.
  • There was no damage to the locks or the ignition.
  • The only key was still in her possession and usually was kept on top of the fridge in the kitchen when not in use.
  • A neighbour reported hearing noises on the street at around 0200hrs and then again at around 0400hrs he heard a car start and drive away.
  • One of Mrs Summers' adult sons (both still lived at home) also reported hearing some noises on the street at around 0200hrs.

However, while consulting a locksmith in regards to another file, I casually mentioned the unusual circumstances of the returned vehicle.

He scratched his head, consulted a database, and said that all models of that particular vehicle post 1995 were fitted with an anti-theft transponder chip in the key. Without the corresponding chip, a key might start the vehicle but it the engine would cut out and certainly the vehicle could not be driven anywhere. If I could get the key to him, he could confirm whether it contained a transponder chip or not.

And sure enough, it does.

Okay, it is possible to override a transponder with the right equipment but what kind of professional thief, who has committed resources into obtaining expensive gear to aid and abet his offending, goes around stealing and then returning vehicles?

Seems highly unlikely.

Not only are they running the risk of being caught while stealing the vehicle, they are also risking being caught bringing it back.

What kind of thief would do this?

A more likely explanation is that someone at home, perhaps one of the two sons, might have borrowed the vehicle for some reason and had an accident. Not wanting to get himself in trouble, he returned the vehicle and put the key back and didn't say a word to his mother. Perhaps he was intoxicated when he had the vehicle.

A less generous explanation is that Mrs Summers knew about what really occurred but reported the vehicle as stolen so as to be eligible for a claim.

In either case, it would appear that Mrs Summers was not aware about the fitted transponder.

I can only assume that the claim will now be declined in light of the findings and that there might be an uncomfortable conversation or two at the Summers household.

No comments:

Post a Comment