FRAUD INSIGHT: Pothole photograph fails to measure up!

  • Road bike worth £2,565.00

  • Metadata of photograph not adding up

  • Story unravels when the policyholder is presented with compelling evidence

About the claim

At the height of the national lockdown, our Property Claims team in Hanley received a claim from a policyholder for a Giant Pro Advanced road bike, with a value of £2,565.00.

The policyholder claimed that whilst he was out on a social ride alone he had hit a large pothole within the road, which caused him to be thrown from his bike and into a ditch. He reported that he was not seriously injured in this incident, however owing to the damage to his bike he was unable to continue riding it and had to call his partner to come and collect him by car.

Before leaving the accident location the policyholder took a photograph of the offending pothole. To the best of his knowledge, there were no witnesses to this accident. He did not report the pothole to the local Council or the Highways Agency.

In support of his claim, the policyholder provided photographic evidence of the pothole he claimed to have hit, causing the damage to the bike. A damage report was obtained from a specialist bike shop confirming that the damage sustained rendered the bike beyond economic repair.

Concerns were raised when the claim was received and reviewed by the claims handler, Hayley Bould. When Hayley checked the Metadata of the photograph showing the offending pothole, it showed that the photograph was taken on 14/04/18, nearly two years before the claimed incident. The claim was subsequently referred to our Special Investigations team and the handling investigator, Gareth Larner, undertook a cognitive interview with the policyholder.

The results

During the interview, the policyholder maintained his original story, which quickly unravelled when Gareth presented him with compelling evidence that the photograph of the pothole predated the loss by nearly two years. Despite protestations of innocence and an attempt to defend the indefensible, the policyholder admitted that he had presented a photograph of a pothole that caused damage to his motor vehicle in 2018 and was subject to a separate claim. The photograph provided showed a tape measure against the pothole. It was asked of the policyholder if it was a normal habit to carry a tape measure when out cycling.

The policyholder had suffered damage to an uninsured road bike, arranged insurance following the incident, and then presented a claim a month later, providing false evidence in support of his claim. The claim was declined on the grounds of fraud and the policy was cancelled.

This case is a great example of eagle-eyed fraud detection on the part of Hayley Bould. This underpinned an excellent investigation on the part of Gareth Larner. Their combined efforts thwarted the fraudster.

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