South African life insurance companies are seeing a surge in fraudulent claims. According to statistics released this week by the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa (Asisa), there was a 12% increase in fraudulent claims from 2019 to 2020. Last year 3 186 such claims, totalling R587.3 million, were recorded, compared with 2 837 claims (R537.1 million) in 2019.
Megan Govender, convenor of the Asisa Forensics Standing Committee, says the increase is not surprising: the tough economic conditions have made it more tempting for dishonest policyholders and syndicates to try their luck in scoring insurance payouts.
The highest incidence of fraud last year (2 282 claims) was in funeral policies. Govender says funeral insurance has always been a soft target for fraudsters, because these policies do not require blood tests and medical examinations and are designed to pay out quickly.
Govender says there have been several shocking incidents in recent months that illustrate just how far some people will go to get a payout. To claim for accidental death, because there was a waiting period for natural death, one family collected the body from the mortuary before the death was registered. The body was then purposefully placed in the road where it could be hit by a car. The family reported a hit-and-run accident and submitted a claim.