An insurer who took out a successful private prosecution against a fraudulent claimant says the case lays down a marker for many more similar actions.
Allianz reported today that it had brought the successful prosecution against defendant Fitzhugh Stephenson, who had submitted a £4,000 personal injury claim.
Stephenson originally claimed for vehicle damages and hire following a builder’s forklift truck reversing into his vehicle. Allianz paid out on the claim, but started an investigation with defendant firm Keoghs after Stephenson submitted a further injury claim 19 months later.
Allianz said enquiries uncovered significant evidence suggesting the PI claim was fraudulent. A call recording of Stephenson reporting the original incident to his insurance broker included an admission that he wasn’t in his vehicle at the time of impact. A letter from his original claim also backed up the assertion that his vehicle was unattended when the original collision occurred.
Two witnesses stated that Stephenson was in the yard shop at the time of the incident, while GP records contradicted his claim that he visited the doctor several times.
Stephenson discontinued his claim but this was not accepted by Allianz and Keoghs, who started the private prosecution. He later admitted fraud and said he had been the subject of a cold call by a claims company encouraging him to make a claim.
He was sentenced last week to 12 months’ imprisonment at Croydon Crown Court, with Allianz awarded the full costs of the prosecution from central funds.
Following the sentencing, Keoghs case lead and associate solicitors Nigel Parker said this was a rare and important prosecution which fires a ‘stark warning’ to those tempted to submit fraudulent claims for injury.
James Burge, fraud manager at Allianz, said: ‘The fact that Allianz took this landmark decision to pursue a private prosecution, which is the first of many to come, just highlights the investment we are continuing to put into fraud detection. I hope that those considering fraudulent claims and the claims management companies involved in encouraging such behaviours take heed of this ruling.’