Insurance Fraud Trends In New Zealand

April 22nd, 2024

Insurance Fraud Trends in New Zealand

Insurance fraud is a significant issue that affects the integrity of our insurance system here in New Zealand, leading to higher premiums for you and undermining public trust. This blog post explores and compares recent trends and types of insurance fraud in New Zealand, providing insights into how these patterns are evolving.

Insurance fraud involves acts intended to fraudulently obtain payment from an insurer. It can range from exaggerated claims to deliberate damages or injuries. Insurance fraud is not only a criminal offence but also an unethical act that impacts all policyholders. Types of insurance fraud can be broadly classified into two categories: soft fraud, which involves exaggerating legitimate claims, and hard fraud, which entails deliberate planning to fabricate claims or events.

Recent Trends in New Zealand

In New Zealand, insurance fraud trends have seen some shifts in recent years. Technological advancements and the increasing digitisation of claims processes have led to both new opportunities for fraudsters and new tools for detecting fraud. Here’s a look at some specific trends.

The increase in digital fraud within the insurance sector is notably driven by the widespread use of online platforms for claim filing, which, while convenient, also opens avenues for fraudulent activities such as the use of doctored documents and the creation of false claims. Fraudsters employ advanced technologies to manipulate digital evidence and often operate in organised networks, making detection challenging. In response, insurance companies are enhancing their fraud detection systems using data analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to identify anomalies and bolstering their digital platforms’ security with stronger authentication processes and continuous monitoring, striving to stay ahead in the ongoing battle against digital fraud.

Vehicle Insurance Fraud remains one of the most common types of insurance fraud in New Zealand. It includes staged accidents, vehicle thefts, and arson. Enhanced data analytics have started to play a pivotal role in identifying patterns that suggest fraudulent activity in this sector.

The COVID-19 pandemic has catalysed a distinct and troubling trend in insurance fraud, particularly through the exploitation of relief measures. As governments and insurance entities introduced specialised support to help individuals and businesses cope with the economic impacts of the pandemic, opportunistic fraudsters saw a chance to capitalise. This type of fraud typically involved false claims. The urgency and volume of claims during the pandemic have posed significant challenges to traditional verification processes, giving fraudsters a window to submit fake claims or manipulate existing claims to obtain illicit financial gains.

Changes in Fraud Trends Due to Digital Technology and Regulatory Changes

When comparing current trends with the past decade, the following observations can be made:

Technological Impact: Earlier, much of the insurance fraud involved more direct, physical methods such as staged accidents. Now, cyber elements are more prevalent, with fraudsters leveraging technology to create sophisticated scams.

Greater Awareness and Better Detection: There has been an increase in public awareness about insurance fraud. Insurance companies in New Zealand are also adopting advanced fraud detection technologies, which use artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify fraudulent activities.

Legal and Regulatory Changes: The legal framework in New Zealand has become stricter regarding insurance fraud, with more severe penalties being imposed. This has been a deterrent to some extent, though challenges remain.

Challenges in Combating Insurance Fraud

Despite advancements in detection technologies, combating insurance fraud in New Zealand faces several challenges, including significant concerns around data privacy. The implementation of advanced analytical tools, essential for detecting fraudulent activities more effectively, often requires navigating complex data privacy laws and regulations. These legal frameworks are designed to protect personal information, but they can also limit the ability of insurers to use powerful data-driven techniques to identify and prevent fraud. This balancing act between protecting privacy and enabling effective fraud detection presents a persistent challenge for the industry.

As detection methods for insurance fraud evolve, so too do the techniques of the fraudsters, presenting a significant challenge in combating fraud effectively. The increasing sophistication of fraudulent schemes means that as soon as new detection methods are developed, perpetrators find innovative ways to bypass these traditional and emerging safeguards. This ongoing cat-and-mouse game requires constant vigilance and adaptation by insurers, who must continuously update and refine their detection strategies to keep pace with the increasingly clever tactics employed by those intent on committing fraud.

The challenges of combating insurance fraud are further complicated by economic and social factors. Economic downturns and social crises, such as rising high inflation and the increases in cost of living, often precipitate an increase in fraudulent activities as individuals and groups seek illicit ways to secure financial relief. These conditions can create a sense of desperation or opportunism, leading more people to rationalise fraudulent behaviours as a necessary means of survival or financial stability. This uptick in fraud during challenging times places additional strain on insurance systems, complicating efforts to identify and mitigate fraudulent claims amidst a potentially higher volume of such activities.

Insurance fraud remains a dynamic challenge that evolves with technological advancements and socio-economic changes. Understanding its trends and the effectiveness of countermeasures is crucial for maintaining the reliability and affordability of insurance in New Zealand. As we continue to combat these deceptive practices, ongoing education, and collaboration will be essential to safeguard the interests of all policyholders. If you’ve seen fraud and you would like to report it, you can do so here.