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    Dec 20, 2013

    Fallen victim to insurance fraud? Call this hotline

    THOSE who believe they have fallen prey to false or exaggerated insurance claims can from today call a hotline set up by an insurance body which wants to help fight fraud.

    The General Insurance Association of Singapore (GIA) said in a statement yesterday that the hotline - 1800-44-37283 or GI-FRAUD - is part of a campaign to "educate the public on this supposedly 'victimless' crime and its repercussions".

    It especially wants to know about motor-insurance fraud from possible victims, who can call the hotline on weekdays, between 9am and 5pm.

    They will be asked to give details about the purported fraud, such as staged accidents or being offered money to file inflated claims, GIA executive director Derek Teo told The Straits Times.

    Cases that are found to be legitimate might even be referred to the authorities. But the main aim of the hotline is to allow GIA to track fraudulent claims, and see if existing laws need beefing up, explained Mr Teo.

    GIA, which was set up in 1965 and now represents 38 insurers such as NTUC Income, AIA Singapore and AXA Insurance, said insurers are also setting up their own special investigative units to detect and fend off fraud.

    While Singapore's domestic insurance industry grew 5.4 per cent last year to $3.34 billion in total gross premiums, it suffered $140 million in losses from inflated and fraudulent motor-insurance claims during the same period. These losses undermine insurers' ability to offer lower premiums and be profitable.

    Mr Teo said the price of insurance fraud "is a cost to everyone because industry losses from fraud must be recouped", adding that "we all pay the price".

    NTUC Income, which insures about 250,000 vehicles, making it the leading motor insurer here, welcomed GIA's move as it "increases the industry's ability to work with the public to fight fraud".

    Mr Peh Chee Keong, NTUC Income's vice-president (motor insurance), also pointed out that his firm already has its own anti-fraud schemes.

    For instance, the insurer sends staff down to accident scenes to help customers and has also set up its own motor-fraud investigation unit. Over the last three years, NTUC Income has referred more than 100 cases to police, said Mr Peh.