Investigating Domestic Property Fraud

Hawkins engineers recently travelled to the CII’s annual, combined conference of the Insurance Institutes of Bournemouth, Guildford, Southampton and Reading. Mr Andy Ingle, a civil engineer from Hawkins’ Reigate Office, and Dr Christabel Fitzpatrick, a materials engineer from Hawkins’ Cambridge Office, gave a presentation on how forensic investigation can assist with identifying cases of fraud in domestic property claims. Both investigators have extensive experience with property damage resulting from flooding, storm damage and escapes of water.

In May, Andy was also invited to speak at the debrief following an investigation he had conducted on behalf of a well-known household insurer and the industry City of London Police Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED). This investigation formed part of a wider IFED investigation of a conspiracy between one of the insurer’s in-house loss adjusters to commit escape of water fraud, along with one of the policy holders. It led to the successful prosecution and conviction of both parties involved.

Investigation of the damage, alleged to be caused by two separate claims, revealed that the damage had come from neither an escape of water, nor a recent storm. Hawkins engineers can examine pipework and pipe fittings to see whether any repairs have been made, whether any parts have been fitted either recently, or incorrectly, and whether the documentation associated with repairs accurately describes the work that has been undertaken. In cases where fraud is suspected, Hawkins engineers can also identify whether or not these documents have been manufactured, rather than originating from a legitimate tradesman.

In any instance of an escape of water, not just in cases where fraud is suspected, it is important to:

  • Retain records of any repairs to pipework
  • Keep pieces of incident pipework either in-situ or on hand for inspection
  • Check for tool marks, fractures, or jagged cracks on pipework
  • Talk to your insurer about damage after a storm as soon as it occurs
  • Never try to put broken parts back together if they have already been removed

If you would like to learn more about detecting fraudulent escape of water claims, contact us to schedule a presentation at your office. 

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