Top 10 Insurance Scams

Many customers across the UK have been scammed into buying payment protection policies. The Financial Services Authority expressed concern that thousands of Brits have been mis sold payment protection insurance and because of this, the high street banks must now shell out millions of pounds in compensation pay-outs to its customers.

Fraud and insurance scams costs the UK £30.5 billion a year and dishonest insurance claims alone cost around £2 billion a year which adds an extra £44 per year to every household’s general insurance budget.

As consumers up and down the country seek to get their money back which was wrongly taken, the PPI Claims Company can reveal the top insurance scams that have caught media headlines for being daft and those dodgy cons that have failed.

‘Cash for crash’

In April 2011 39 members of a Luton gang were involved in a £5.3 million ‘cash for crash’ insurance scam; the largest fraud ring the industry has ever seen.

cash for crash

The case, called Operation Exhort, involved a five year investigation by Bedfordshire Police and three defendants from the criminal enterprise resulted in being jailed. A further 33 defendants pleaded guilty to a variety of offences in connection to the insurance scam.

 

Law graduates accuse Brazil of mugging


In August 2009 two law grads scamBritish law graduates confessed to a false insurance scam in Brazil in which they claimed they were robbed.

Graduates Shanti Andrews and Rebecca Turner claimed they were mugged of their laptop, purse, mobile phone and digital camera during a bus journey in Brazil to pocket an insurance pay-out.

But the 23 year-olds later went on trial and admitted to charges of attempted insurance fraud. The pair were sentenced to community service and fined £3,900.

 

Fraudster shot himself as part of a string of scams

fraudster scam

In March 2011, an insurance fraudster shot himself in the chest to claim money in compensation. It was only after he confessed that he was the gunman, that it was revealed he has created a string of scams over the past 16 years.

In 1995 he claimed to have been shot by an air rifle and won £2,500 in compensation; in 2004 he won £1,750 after claiming he had been accidently stabbed by a family member; and in 2006 he received £5,600 after falsely claiming he had slipped in a public toilet in Corwen, in Wales.

Amateur footballer scammed insurer out millions

In April 2011 an unprofessional footballer was jailed for a year after trying to scam an insurer out of millions of pounds.footballer scam

James Shikell was involved in a car accident in 2002 and won £30,000 in compensation from the Motor Insurers’ Bureau. He claimed his injuries were so severe that he required a further £1.35 million in damages to cover loss of earnings and care costs but a private investigator filmed him playing a football game “vigorously and competitively”.

Shikell’s father was also sentenced for one year for his part in supporting the fraudulent claim and a footballing teammate was fined for making a false statement.

Canoe Man Disappears

In 2002, John “Cancanoe man scamoe” Darwin made headlines with the most outrageous insurance scam ever.  The father faked his own death in a canoe so his wife could claim £680,000 from pensions and insurance companies.

The 60 year-old conman was so desperate to wipe his crippling debts he decided to paddle to his ‘death’ and ‘drown’ at sea, resulting in a six-year jail sentence and the grief of his two sons.

 

Best pals stage car crash insurance scam

friends car crash scam

In July 2010, two pals staged a car crash to cheat an insurance company out of £11,400.

Best friends Katie Ashcroft, 24, and Jodie Jackman, 23, faked that they had been in an accident and arranged for a ‘Mr Fixit’ to crash their cars into each other before ringing their insurance companies to falsely claim.

Friends and family members pretended to be passengers in the cars and filed fake injury claims. The scam was only exposed when emails between the pair were found.

OAPs kill homeless men to collect millions in life insurance

Some pensioners from California, America were convicted in 2008 in a murder scam.

oaps scam

The OAPs, Helen Golay (73) and Olga Rutterschmidt (50) were put behind bars after killing two homeless men and collecting millions of pounds in life insurance.

Golay was found guilty of the murders in 1999 and in 2005 and sentenced to a life sentence; whereas her accomplice was convicted of conspiring to murder for financial gain.  The trial was known as the trial of the Black Widows.

Conman shattered girlfriend’s leg for £100k compensation

conman scamIn 2007 a conman deliberately broke his girlfriend’s leg to claim £100,000 insurance.

Gordon Thomon, 32, left his fiancée Elizabeth Hingston, 24, in agonising pain in a sick stunt that involved him putting a brick under her left limb and jump on it with both feet.

The pair planned to sue the council and claim a wall had fallen on her as part of the bogus scam but were rumbled when the scheme was filmed on a mobile phone.

Thomson pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Eight People Convicted Over Motor Scam Worth Thousands

In April 2011, emotor scamight people were convicted for their part in a car insurance fraud scam worth tens of thousands of pounds.

 

Five men and three women were sentenced at Leicester Crown Court following an investigation into fraudulent claims related to damage and injuries resulting from four collisions in Leicester and Birmingham.

The ringleader, who was involved in setting up one of the false collisions, even set up a fraudulent claims company as part of the scam. The conspirators netted nearly £50,000 which would have doubled had the police not rumbled the scheme.

Doctor accused of involvement in £4 million insurance fraud case

In April 2011, a GP doctor in Harrow, Great London appeared before a trial accused of fraud estimadoctor scamted to total around £4 million.

Dr Lawrence Martin Adler, of Belmont Health Care, has been alleged of being involved in “after the event” insurance claims relating to personal injury accidents.

The 58-year-old appeared at Southwark Crown Court alongside five other defendants, a solicitor and insurance workers as part of an on-going investigation.

World less peaceful for third year running

2011 Global Peace Index

World Less Peaceful for Third Straight Year; Arab Spring Heralds Biggest Ever Change in Rankings

– Libya Tumbles 83 Spots in Rankings, Largest Ever Fall in GPI History

– Iceland Bounces Back from Economic Woes to Top Ranking

– Somalia Displaces Iraq as World’s Least Peaceful Nation

– Violence Cost the Global Economy More Than $8.12 Trillion in 2010

– US Peacefulness Shows Minimal Change

The threat of terrorist attacks and the likelihood of violent demonstrations were the two leading factors1 making the world less peaceful in 2011, according to the latest Global Peace Index (GPI), released today. This is the third consecutive year that the GPI, produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), has shown a decline in the levels of world peace. The economic cost of this to the global economy was $8.12 trillion in the past year.

The GPI is the world’s leading measure of global peacefulness. It gauges ongoing domestic and international conflict, safety and security in society, and militarisation in 153 countries by taking into account 23 separate indicators.

The 2011 Index dramatically reflects the impact on national rankings of the Arab Spring. Libya (143) saw the most significant drop – falling 83 places; Bahrain (123) dropped by 51 places – the second largest margin; while Egypt (73) dropped 24 places. Unrest caused by economic instability also led to falls in levels of peacefulness in Greece (65), Italy (45), Spain (28), Portugal (17) and Ireland (11).

The fall in this year’s Index is strongly tied to conflict between citizens and their governments; nations need to look at new ways of creating stability other than through military force,” said Steve Killelea, founder and Executive Chairman of the IEP.Despite a decade-long war on terrorism, the potential for terrorist acts has increased this year offsetting small gains made in prior years.”

While the overall level of peacefulness was down, this year’s data did show increased peacefulness in some areas – most notably levels of military expenditure and relations between neighbouring states.

Killelea continued: “There is increasing recognition that there is a real ‘peace dividend’ to be had. Our research identifies eight social attitudes and structures2required to create peaceful, resilient and socially sustainable societies.”

Having high scores across all eight structures enabled Iceland to regain its position at the top of this year’s Index, after slipping in last year’s ranking following violent demonstrations related to the collapse of the country’s financial system and currency. High scores across the governance structures also explain why Japan was able to retain its position in the rankings – despite the external shock of this year’s earthquake and tsunami.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS / REGIONAL FINDINGS

If the world had been 25% more peaceful over the past year there would have been an economic impact of US$2 trillion to the global economy.

If the world had been 25% more peaceful over the past year the global economy would have reaped an additional economic benefit of just over US$2 trillion. This amount would pay for the 2% of global GDP per annum investment estimated by the Stern Review3 to avoid the worst effects of climate change, cover the cost of achieving the Millennium Development Goals4, eliminate the public debt of Greece, Portugal and Ireland5, and address the one-off rebuilding costs of the most expensive natural disaster in history – the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami6.

Iceland is the world’s most peaceful nation, followed by New Zealand, Japan, Denmark and the Czech Republic. Iraq (152) moved from the bottom of the Index for the first time ever.

Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region least at peace, containing 40% of the world’s least peaceful countries, Sudan (151) and Somalia (153) at the bottom of the Index.

For the fifth consecutive year, Western Europe is the most peaceful region with the majority of countries ranking in the top 20. Four Nordic countries are ranked in the top ten; however, Sweden drops to number 13 because of its arms-manufacturing industry and the volume of exports of conventional weapons. Joining the European Union has had a positive impact on the relevant members of Central and Eastern Europe with the Czech Republic moving into the top ten (5th place) for the first time and Slovenia rising to 10th position.

North America demonstrated a slight improvement since last year. Canada (8) jumped 6 places in this year’s rankings whereas the US’s (82) overall score remained unchanged although its ranking improved from 85th to 82nd.

GPI Results, related maps and charts are available at www.visionofhumanity.org.

Young drivers priced out of cars… and on to bikes

Young drivers are being increasingly priced off the roads as rising fuel and insurance costs put car ownership out of reach for many teenagers.

New figures from the Driving Standards Agency show that the number of 17-year-olds taking driving tests has fallen by more than 55,000 in the past three years.

And many people priced out of running a car are looking to motorcycling, with a 17 per cent increase in the number of people taking CBT (compulsory basic training) courses in the past year, according to industry group Get On.
Campaign director Miles Taylor said that “more and more people are looking at the cost of driving a car for a year and seeing they can save thousands of pounds by riding a motorcycle instead, particularly a 125cc model.”

“This sector of the market is currently almost 25 per cent up on last year, with scooters up 30 per cent.”

Taylor said that opting for a motorcycle should be a no-brainer for many who wanted to maintain their transport independence, particularly youngsters at university facing increased tuition fees and rental costs.

Get On provides free riding sessions to give potential motorcyclists a taste of life on two wheels, and Taylor said: “There is a strong interest in bookings from young people and we would encourage them to look at motorcycling as an affordable form of personal transport.”
In the past year, drivers have been hit by an average 40 per cent increase in car insurance premiums combined with record fuel costs, up an average of 15.43p a litre compared to a year ago.

Newly-qualified drivers can face premiums of up to £6000 a year.

Against this background, the number of 17-year-olds taking a driving test has fallen nearly 15 per cent from 384,571 in 2007/8 to 329,307 in the year ending March 2011, the steepest falls coming in the past two years.

In contrast, the number of people taking motorcycle tests increased from 68,792 to 105,362 in the decade up to March 2009.
Robert Balls, of specialist motorcycle broker Bikesure, said the days when youngsters could put themselves on mum and dad’s policy as an “occasional” driver were over, with insurers wising up to a practice known as fronting.
“People keen on getting their independence often used to ride a motorcycle for a few months before they passed their driving test and got their own car at the age of 17 or 18,” he added.

“But we are seeing more people sticking with their motorcycles, or even selling their cars and coming back to bikes.

“The premium for a 125cc motorcycle is often less than a quarter of that for a car, and when you add in lower fuel costs and cheaper road tax you can see the temptation of sticking with two wheels.

“For example, a 17-year-old can insure a 125cc bike for about £400, whereas a car might cost 10 times that, and for some teenagers that’s the only way they can afford their own transport, even if they have passed their driving test.”

Research by Get On shows a saving of over £4000 in the first year, and £3700 a year thereafter, for a new Honda CBR125R compared with a used Peugeot 306, based on a 19-year-old living in Birmingham.

“The Honda can do 158 miles per gallon, and even a BMW F650 can do 76mpg, while it costs £1000 on average just to learn to drive a car before you even think about insurance, but a CBT is, on average, just £125 and can be done in a day,” said Taylor.

“A lot of people whose incomes are being squeezed at the moment are clearly seeing the benefits.”

As for parents worried about the safety of two wheels, Taylor said: “Motorcycles are also a lot safer than they used to be, with features like ABS on many bikes, traction control on some and new modern tyres accident rates as a proportion of riders are coming down.
“Some people still have the perception that all motorcycles are fundamentally dangerous, but with better education of car drivers, the right training, equipment and rider attitude they can be a practical, economic form of transport. And great fun too!”

What’s so good about:

Motorbikes:

Fuel economy up to four times that of cars
Beat the rush by skipping through traffic jams – journey times typically 30 per cent faster
Significantly cheaper insurance and other running costs
One day to licence pass – with a CBT typically costing just £125 and not £990 for a car
Enjoy the freedom of being out in the open and make the most of the summer breeze
Better for the environment
It’s fun – bikers are happier commuters
You’ll never have to buy de-icer
You never have to clean out empty crisp packets, sweet wrappers or coffee cups
You never have to pick your gran up from the airport
Parking has never been easier
You’ll never need to buy an air freshener

Cars:

No helmet hair
You can take more than one passenger
There’s room for luggage, or the weekly shopping
Heating, air conditioning, a stereo and, of course, a roof
You can sleep in a car – and entertain guests…
You can drive backwards
Cup holders
You can’t fall off a car
Your dog can come for a drive with you

Plans for worlds first green investment bank

The Business Secretary set out this week, his vision for the Green Investment Bank (GIB) as a new and enduring institution to complement existing green policies.

Vince Cable published a progress report on the GIB setting out more detail on its governance and business model.

The GIB’s mission will be to accelerate private sector investment in the UK’s transition to a green economy. It will play a vital role in addressing market failures which are holding back private sector investment.

Sectors likely to be eligible for intervention initially include offshore wind, non-domestic energy efficiency and waste. Work is ongoing to explore other sectors which will change over time.

Its initial remit will be to focus on green infrastructure assets and on the twin objectives of achieving significant green impact and making financial returns.

As the bank will need to be approved by the European Commission before it can be established, there will be a phased approach. Once it has been agreed, the GIB will be enshrined in legislation confirming its independent status as an enduring institution with a key public role.

In order to make rapid progress, the Government will make direct, state-aid compliant investments in green infrastructure projects from April 2012 until these investments can be transferred to the GIB.

The Business Secretary is also setting up an advisory group to provide strategic direction of the GIB. Today we can announce that Sir Adrian Montague will chair this group of independent finance experts.

Vince Cable said: “This is an opportunity for the UK to lead the way in the transition to a low carbon economy with the world’s first dedicated Green Investment Bank.

“The GIB will become a key component of this transition which needs significant investment over the coming decades.

“I’m delighted that Sir Adrian Montague has agreed to chair the advisory group. He has a wealth of experience that will help with the strategic direction of the GIB.”

Sir Adrian Montague, chair of the advisory group said: “The Green Investment Bank is a genuinely radical innovation. The keys to the GIB’s success are going to be precise targeting and brilliant execution.

“It is both a privilege, and an irresistible opportunity, to have been asked by the Secretary of State to chair the new institution’s Advisory Board. My first task is to advise on the membership of the Advisory Board. The GIB needs the best people in order to get off to a flying start.”

 

Only one in six of us plan for the future

Standard Life has found that people in the UK live for the moment rather than the long term, with more than one in six (17%) failing to plan their finances at all, according to recent research from the savings and investments company.

The research, which looks into the UK’s fascination with living for now, finds that almost half of Brits (45%) only plan their finances just a year ahead, or less, with only a fifth of them (22%) planning up to five years into the future. Alarmingly, only one in six people (16%) plan more than six years ahead which underlines the real necessity for the UK to start addressing their long term savings plan. Doing this is critical if they are to be financially secure, achieve their future goals and live the lifestyle they want.

Of the UK regions, it was found that those from London were the top financial planners, with one in six (17%) planning six years or more ahead. In contrast, those from Scotland came out as the least likely to make long term financial plans, with only one in ten (11%) planning more than six years ahead.

To find out more about the nation’s attitudes to planning for the future, Standard Life is launching a UK-wide poll and prize draw and linking up with boutique hotel specialist i-escape.com. Entrants have to vote on which prize they would prefer; a short break this year with accommodation from i-escape.com, or a holiday of a lifetime in five years. The results will show whether people in the UK favour instant gratification or greater long term rewards. This issue of desiring instant gratification presents an on-going challenge for the UK because people are living longer and their financial security cannot be guaranteed. It represents a huge challenge for providers and advisers who are keen to help consumers plan ahead so they can look to the future with confidence and optimism.

Bruce Kelsall, group and UK marketing director at Standard Life, said: “The growth in our ageing population has created a dramatic need to shift from a culture of spending to one of saving. People are completely comfortable making financial plans for a summer holiday; planning and investing in your future is no different. You may have to finance your lifestyle up to the age of 90 or even longer and while planning for this eventuality is essential, it needn’t be stressful. Even the smallest actions now can have a dramatic effect on your long term finances.”

Case Study: AC Investor Blog – A Great Place to Learn

The stock market is not for beginners. It takes years of skill, foresight, and intense determination to succeed at this masterful game of current market prediction and to accurately provide Stock Signals.

As a 37 year old part-time trader, Antonio Costa has been actively trading stocks for almost two decades, all without the assistance of computer software. Costa started AC Investor Blog as a way to improve his skills as a trader and also share his thoughts on the market.

The goal today is still to share valuable stock trading advice with readers. Costa invites readers to ask questions or share comments on the blog, as well as subscribing to an informative newsletter for free – there’s even a Twitter feed.

The website is intended for the education of online stock traders. The information provided therein is not to be construed as recommendations to buy or sell stocks of any kind. All investors should consult a qualified professional before trading any stock. Antonio Costa is not an investment advisor. Any investments, trades, and/or speculations made in light of the ideas, opinions, and/or forecasts made are committed at the reader’s own risk, financial or otherwise.

All Saints comes back from the brink

The retail giant, All Saints, may have found it saviours in a lucky escape from closing down many of it’s stores.

A last minute deal was pulled off rescuing 2,000 staff and keeping open all 62 stores and 45 concessions in Europe, America and Russia.

The fashion chain, best known for it’s vintage feel sitting at the higher priced end of the high street was on the verge of collapse after running out of cash due to ill-timed expansion.

Chief executive Stephen Craig held protracted talks with a number of investors who had left and amazingly at the last minute secured a deal with a consortium including private equity firms Lion Capital and Goode Partners for £105m.

The deal will be finalised next week and will give Lion takes 65 per cent stake, founder Kevin Stanford will retain 15 per cent and Goode 11 per cent. The management will share the remainder.

 

Insurers blacklist drivers based on postcode

 

Premiums are soaring as honest motorists foot the bill for the ‘fraud epidemic’ sweeping the country, which has lead to insurers secretly to blacklist certain postcodes.

Many car owners have seen a rise of up to forty per cent in insurance premiums over the past year, insurers are blaming an increase in fraudulent claims

An investigation has shown blacklisted areas of the UK where concentrations of fraudulent activity have taken place. These claims have lead some insurance companies to flat-out refuse some motorists insurnace in some areas.

The most popular fraudulent incidents include staged accidents, bogus injury claims and fronting, where parents claim they are the main driver for heir child’s car.

Top ten areas for fraudulent claims; Birmingham, Liverpool, Bradford, East London, Manchester, North London, Bolton, Blackburn, Southall and Oldham.

Birmingham tops the list with a staggering one in ten suspicious claims, with B8 – east Digbeth being one of the worst spots followed by B15 – Edgbaston

James Heath, head of counter fraud strategy at Keoghs, says: ‘We are now seeing what can reasonably be described as a fraud epidemic across the UK.

‘It is clear from these results that fraud is no longer restricted to the country’s most heavily built-up areas.’

See how your postcode affects your car and home insurance at www.thisismoney.co.uk/postcode

Will voters decide to change the British voting system?

The question being asked is should the ‘alternative vote’ system be used instead of the present ‘first past the post’ system when electing MPs to the house of commons.

Under the current first past the post system voters simply chose their preferred candidate. Whether the one who wins secures less than half of the total vote they will still be elected.

The alternative vote system would change this, if the UK changes the voting system voters will be able to rank their candidates in order of preference.

If a candidate gains more than 50 per cent of first choices they would be elected.

If not this new system would mean the candidate in last place would be eliminated and their second choices redistributed. This process would be repeated until one candidate secures an absolute majority.

These are the central arguments for AV:

  • More than two out of every three MPs are currently elected despite more constituents voting for someone else. Just 1.6% of voters – fewer than 450,000 – effectively decided the last election;
  • Under AV, candidates will have to gain the support of 50% of voters;
  • MPs will have to work harder and reach out to a much wider range of people if they are forced to seek a much higher proportion of support in the area.
  • AV, or a form of it, is used by the House of Commons, most political parties and a broad range of corporations and civic groups;
  • Australia, despite using AV, has had fewer hung parliaments than the UK.

These are the principal arguments for a No vote in the referendum:

  • It is unfair that the person who comes third in the first round can end up winning; the then Australian prime minister John Howard lost his seat under AV in 2007 despite winning the most first preference votes;
  • AV is confusing for voters, lacking the simplicity of FPTP.
  • AV would replace clear outcomes with a situation where ”the Liberal Democrats choose the government after each election”
  • AV is expensive, costing hundreds of millions of pounds in electronic counting equipment.
  • Only three countries in the world use AV: Australia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

(telegraph.co.uk)

The five barriers to business growth

According to UK Government statistics less than 20% of all companies achieve sustainable growth. Why is the number so low? What stops the majority of companies achieving growth?

Roderic Michelson is a company growth expert from Aralex Consulting. In his experience, working with both large corporates and smaller SME’s, there are five key barriers to growth. By ignoring these key areas you can be sure you will be in the 80% that fail to grow;

1. Unclear Value Proposition.
Is your product solving a real customer problem – technical or operational? Or is it just a nice to have? To achieve growth it must be clear what problem you are solving. Having determined exactly where you are bringing value to your customers, then it may be necessary to fine tune the features or the price. However without a clear understanding of why your customers would want your product or service, tweaking is irrelevant.

“These sound very basic, but in my experience this area is the main reason a company fails to grow, and by tackling it you can make a huge difference in a very short time-frame.” says Roderic.

2. Owner and management team capabilities.
People start companies for different reasons. However, all entrepreneurs share common psychological traits: a desire for independence and getting things done, persistence, fortitude and optimism. These are great assets but there’s another side of the coin: inability to delegate, competitiveness and unwillingness to listen, also come with the package.

Beyond a certain size the family atmosphere of a start-up company needs to give way to team leaders, stronger delegation and clear processes.

When a company hits the milestone sizes of 6, 20 and 50-70 people, it is up to the entrepreneur to decide whether they want to grow further or stay in the “lifestyle business” size. A positive decision to grow requires change and is usually challenging for both the original team and the lead entrepreneurs. Quite often the initial teams are unfit to take the company further.

Failure to make a clear decision can leave a company floundering with a lack of vision and no clear direction. And failure to recognise when help is needed can consign a healthy company to its death bed.

3. Marketing.
We live in an over-marketed world. So marketing must not be left to chance. Start with the basics. Who are your customers and why are they buying from you? What is your Unique Selling Proposition? Which media are you using to reach out to them? Most companies are using 1-2 channels only. But there is gold to be mined in using multiple-media approaches and fine-tuning your message that will be of interest to your ideal customers.

4. Insufficient funding.
Under-funding is not just a significant contributor to business failure, it’s also a barrier to growth. Even if your business does well, there’s a need to invest in growth: more marketing, more stock, more materials, more salespeople … the list goes on.

And with growth comes the cash-flow-crunch problem as you have to pay your suppliers before your customer pays you.

So how do you work the Cash Conversion Cycle? First you need to calculate the actual time between paying your suppliers for inventory and stock and the time you get paid from your clients. Even an average number of days will be eye-opening. This will show you the number of days your working capital is tied up and unavailable to invest further.

If you do only one thing then let it be a vigorous focus on shortening your cash cycle. This will release cash so you can invest in growth.

5. Poor Sales Management.
An essential issue that entrepreneurs and managers need to track is the sales pipeline. Is there enough new business? Will it come through in a month, three or six months? This should be done in a very systematic way.

It is easier to do in a smaller company where things are more open. As the company grows decision-makers become more removed from sales and visibility deteriorates sharply.
Working on pipeline visibility and planning can not be emphasised strongly enough. It is a vital activity not only for growth but survival as well. The longer the sales cycle, the more critical it becomes. Ignore this aspect at your peril. Without a clear picture of your pipeline your growth will be sporadic at best and in the worst case – non existent.

The good news, just by tackling one of these five barriers you can make a significant difference in the short term, but to achieve long-term, sustainable growth, all five areas need to be tackled and diligently maintained.