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Frequently asked questions

Why has it been necessary to create IFED?

Insurance fraud is currently adding on average £50 to how much each policyholder pays: a cost in excess of £2 billion per annum. In the challenging economic climate, insurance fraud is showing no signs of reducing. In the face of this continuing threat and with the knowledge that Government has asked police forces across the UK to reduce budgets, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) decided to fund a dedicated and specialised police department to attack insurance fraud head on. As the National Policing Lead for Fraud, the City of London Police was selected to take on the operational management of IFED, which is also housed at its Economic Crime Directorate offices in London.

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What exactly will IFED do?

Based on an annual national threat assessment undertaken by the police and the insurance industry, IFED will target all kinds of insurance fraud, from organised gangs operating ‘crash for cash’ rings, through to individuals making fraudulent claims on personal injury, motor vehicle, or homes and contents policies. IFED will conduct intelligence-led investigations and prosecutions of those who perpetrate and facilitate insurance fraud, while also seizing and recovering assets on behalf of the industry. Additionally, IFED will support proceedings against corrupt professionals who enable fraud, acting to bar or otherwise restrict their ability to practice in the future. Over time and in consultation with industry, IFED may eventually rebalance its activities towards more prevention and disruption work. Highlighting successful prosecutions, IFED will also use the media to create awareness about insurance fraud. This will act to both deter future offending while also assist industry to build more robust prevention strategies.

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Why should industry fund policing in this way?

The Police National Working Group for Fraud, a forum that represents the economic crime units from all police forces in England and Wales, has indicated that most forces will have to manage a reduction in resources devoted to fraud into the future. With the reduction in police resources insurance fraud will not be a high priority for investigation by the police. Fraudsters would see the industry as a soft target and continue to commit fraud, knowing that there is little chance they will be caught and brought before the courts. IFED will help redress this imbalance, by prosecuting those who perpetrate fraud and recovering their criminal assets, while also working to detect and disrupt the practice of professionals who enable fraud.

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How much is IFED costing?

The unit will cost a maximum of £11.7 million over the next three years (to January 2017). The cost is being covered by a compulsory levy on ABI members. There will be an annual review to assess the performance and benefits of IFED.

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How many cases will the unit be able to manage?

This depends on how many cases fit the IFED criteria and how complex they are. Additionally, we must also factor in that some cases will be passed on to other forces to investigate when they fall within their regional jurisdiction. What we can guarantee, is that IFED will work to its absolute capacity to complete as many cases as it can, as quickly as possible.

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How is IFED governed?

IFED is overseen by a strategic board which meets once a quarter. The board is chaired by Joe Barker, Head of Fraud and Financial Crime at the Home Office, and includes Head of IFED DCI Oliver Little and a representative of Scottish Policing. Industry is represented by the ABI’s Assistant Director Aidan Kurr, Head of the Insurance Fraud Bureau Ben Fletcher, Chief Operating Officer at Admiral Insurance David Stevens and Managing Director of LV John O’Roarke.

There is also an IFED management board that meets on a bi-monthly basis. This group will provide the industry with a more detailed insight into IFED’s performance and will allow for prompt feedback from industry to police and vice versa.

Below the management board, the City of London Police has operational independence in managing IFED on a day-to-day basis. This will include decisions regarding which cases IFED will either take on or refer to other agencies and police forces.

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How big is the IFED team? What expertise will it have?

IFED is led by the City of London Police’s DCI Oliver Little, who will oversee an expert team of 40+ full-time specialist fraud detectives and civilian financial investigators. The team will undertake everything from basic financial investigations, through to forensic data examination, case work and asset seizures.

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Does IFED have a national remit?

Yes. IFED will investigate cases from across England and Wales and will not be limited to specific force areas. Although the City of London Police in its National Policing Lead for Fraud role does not extend to Scotland and Northern Ireland, CoLP liaises and cooperates successfully with both forces.

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How do I refer a case to IFED?

Insurers can report cases that meet the acceptance criteria to IFED via their industry representative (SPOC) by completing a referral form. Cases can also be referred via the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) or by regional police forces. Where a case does not meet IFED’s acceptance criteria it will then be directed to the City of London Police’s Economic Crime Directorate for consideration. In urgent cases where there is an immediate need for police action, insurers can contact IFED by phone or after hours via the City of London Police’s on-call Duty Fraud Inspector.

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How will IFED decide to take on a case?

When a case is referred to IFED, it will be assessed against a case acceptance criteria which will measure how much the referral reflects those threats that the insurance industry considers most urgent. Once assessed, a decision will be taken by IFED to either investigate the case, or when appropriate pass it onto another police force or enforcement agency. This mirrors the current crime reporting procedures at the City of London Police’s Economic Crime Directorate.

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Will this process favour high-value cases?

No. IFED will not take on cases based solely on monetary loss. The team will consider a range of insurance frauds, from high volume, low value fraud committed by individuals, through to more organised, systematic criminal attacks against the insurance industry.

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Will IFED take on cases from smaller insurance companies?

Yes. The size of the company referring a case will not be a factor in determining whether a case is accepted. However, on balance, as larger companies tend to have more insurance fraud, it is expected that a significant number of IFED cases will come from bigger insurers.

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Are all classes of insurance covered by IFED?

Yes. All domestic and commercial general insurances, health and life and protection insurance products may be referred to IFED.

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How will the success of the unit be measured?

The success and benefits of IFED will be measured using performance metrics in the areas of enforcement - for example, the number of investigations, arrests and prosecutions, prevention and disruption activity, improvements in quality and dissemination of intelligence and asset denial and recovery.

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How will smaller insurance companies benefit?

The size of the company referring a case will not be a factor in determining whether a case is accepted. However, on balance, as larger companies tend to have more insurance fraud, it is logical that a significant number of IFED cases will come from bigger insurers. Smaller companies will benefit from the wider prevention and deterrence work and will have access to intelligence which will allow them to strengthen their defensive strategies.

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Will other police forces still take on insurance cases?

Yes, if it falls within their case acceptance criteria and they have the resources to manage it; other forces will still accept cases of insurance fraud for investigation. IFED will also be able to provide guidance and assistance to other forces if they take on an insurance fraud case themselves.

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What will the relationship be between IFED and other police forces?

Regional police forces will be able to refer insurance fraud cases for investigation. However, cases will still be subject to IFED’s case acceptance criteria. Other forces will also provide supporting services for IFED if there is a need for additional officers to make arrests around the country. This will be requested in the usual manner for inter-force cooperation and will be provided at no additional cost to the insurance industry.

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What is the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB)?

The NFIB is one of the most advanced police intelligence systems in the world, using millions of reports of fraud to help catch serial fraudsters and provide a better picture of the nature of fraud.

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What will be the roles of the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) and NFIB in relation to IFED?

The IFB will continue to share data with the NFIB on insurance fraud cases. It will also refer case packages for investigation to IFED. The NFIB will receive regular data feeds from IFED and this information will be used to form intelligence packages which will be fed back to industry. The NFIB has access to a wide range of criminal intelligence which can be mapped against that provided by the insurance industry.

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Will ancillary services be provided by the City of London police?

Yes. If operational need dictates, IFED will be supported by other City of London Police resources including firearms officers, forensic and surveillance support and intelligence capability. These services will be agreed and provided in accordance with operational availability and priorities at no additional cost to the industry.

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How will high profile arrests be publicised?

The IFED Media and Communication Officer will work with the ABI and other insurance industry representatives when necessary, to publicise cases which will help both raise awareness of insurance fraud and to act as a deterrent to those who might consider committing this crime.

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Will the bottleneck of cases just be passed on from the police to the courts?

No. While the work of IFED will provide a significant step change in the number of insurance fraud cases which will be brought before the courts, in the overall context of cases in the criminal justice system it should not generate any significant additional burden on the courts or criminal justice system as a whole.

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Will IFED simply be operational or will it be able to add value in other ways?

IFED will work with industry to develop a range of ways of feeding back intelligence depending on the business need. The strategic threat assessment will also be developed annually and shared with the insurance industry.

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