The fight to keep premiums down for Saga’s motor insurance customers reached the High Court with a couple from South Wales, Graham and Susan Loveday, being convicted for contempt of court following an audacious attempt to make a hugely inflated fraudulent personal injury claim following a minor traffic accident.
Mr Loveday was jailed on 13th July for 9 months for contempt of court, although he will be released unconditionally after four and a half months; whilst Mrs Loveday, who made a partial admission of liability, was given a six month suspended sentence conditional on her not committing any further contempt for 18 months.
If the fraud had gone undetected the couple would have cost Saga’s underwriter Acromas Insurance Company Limited, around £1 million – equivalent to adding £1.00 to every Saga Motor Insurance policy.
It had been claimed that following a minor traffic accident involving a Toyota Corolla driven by a Saga Motor Insurance customer and Mr Loveday’s Landrover Discovery, that Mr Loveday had been so badly injured by the collision that he was in constant pain, could no longer drive or undertake any kind of work and that he needed a wheelchair. He also claimed psychological problems such as memory loss, aggression, fear of crowds and of being in a car.
The couple who have been dubbed the ‘Little Britain fraudsters’, because, rather like the comedy’s character Andy, Mr Loveday claimed that he could only walk very short distances with a stick and any longer distances required the use of a wheelchair – when in actual fact he was filmed servicing his Landrover Discovery, fetching and carrying at campsites, unhooking his caravan from the Landrover’s tow bar, going shopping, driving around town and driving from South Wales to Lake Garda.
However, unlike the Little Britain sketch where Andy’s carer Lou has no idea that Andy was in fact swinging the lead, Mrs Loveday was well aware of her husband’s true condition and yet gave fraudulent- signed witness evidence in Court documents, something she admitted to the High Court.
Mr Loveday refused to submit for a medical examination, arranged by Acromas in his own home stating that he had another hospital appointment on that day and to have to undergo a further exam that day would be too unbearable. However, after visiting the Dentist, he was filmed driving his wife to B&Q for a spot of shopping at the same time as he should have been having his examination.
Commenting on the conviction Roger Ramsden, Chief Executive, Saga Insurance said:
“Whilst we take no pleasure in seeing Mr Loveday jailed, insurance fraud is not a victimless crime; it affects all consumers who have to pay for the consequences. Today’s judgement means that law abiding middle-Britain strikes back at the claim junkies of Little Britain whose false personal injury claims have helped push motor insurance premiums up by 40% last year.
“Saga has a very active and professional team of investigators who defend Saga customers against fraudulent claims. We employ a range of investigative techniques and Saga is determined to prosecute any fraudster, with vigour to protect the interests of our customers. Our investigations team currently have some 3,000 people in their sights – and although not all are claiming £1 million – tonight they should be sleeping less easily in their beds.”
Some extracts from Mr Loveday’s sworn statement:
“I have to use a wheelchair if I am intending on going any distance. I am fully reliant on my wife to assist me with my mobility both indoors and outdoors.”
“The fear I have developed of travelling is absolutely crippling. The prospect of having to go in car fills me with such dread that I do become violently ill. I will do anything to avoid having to go out, particularly in a car. I just want to be locked up safe sat home.”
“Prior to the accident, we used to go caravanning. We also used to take regular holidays every year. We have been unable to do this since the accident.”
He also stated that to avoid travelling by car they flew on holiday to Lake Garda – and mentions his treatment at the airport: “The airline were very good, and immediately we arrived at the airport I was put in a wheelchair and taken straight through. I was first on the plane and the last off so I did not have to get involved in being in the middle of crowds.” However, the actualité was that he was filmed hooked up to his caravan and driving from South Wales across Europe.
“I used to enjoy holidays abroad and trips away in our caravan with my wife. I also enjoyed playing snooker and darts, but am not able to do any of these things any more. In addition, I loved working on car and have rebuilt engines before. Again this is something I can no longer do.”
According to the ABI in 2009 dishonest motor insurance claims totalling £410 million were uncovered.
The number of personal injury claims in the UK is twice that in Europe despite UK having Europe’s safest roads. Amongst car drivers, the numbers who were killed or seriously injured fell by 10% to 4,839 in 2009 (source: Department for Transport)
There are many estimates of what fraud costs the insurance industry and the most recent, from analysts Towers Watson (October 2010), suggests that fraudulent claims add just over £80 for every motor policy.
For further information, please contact the Saga Press Office on 01303 771529