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UNTERFHRING / WIESBADEN (dpa-AFX) – The corona crisis has led to an increase in subsidy and insurance fraud in Germany. The Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) reported 7585 cases of subsidy fraud on Tuesday, the majority of which were about Corona emergency aid applications. The Wiesbaden authorities put the damage at 151 million euros. And Germany’s largest insurer Allianz is registering increasing numbers of insurance fraud. The number of fraud attempts has risen by around ten percent since the beginning of the pandemic, as Allianz Germany announced.
Since cases of subsidy fraud were still rare in 2019, white-collar crime increased significantly overall in the past year – the BKA counted 49,174 cases, over a fifth more than in 2019. That was the first increase since 2017. Investors apparently also wanted the favor of the Use hour: The BKA counted 4865 cases, an increase of over a third.
What is striking at Allianz is a presumed connection with the closings of retail and catering. Accordingly, the company recorded a sudden increase in water damage to commercial customers of around a quarter. As an example, the company cites seasonal goods that were destroyed by water and that could not be sold in stores due to the corona restrictions. It can therefore be assumed that companies that have got into financial difficulties are trying to get themselves harmless from their insurance.
The General Association of the German Insurance Industry also assumes this. “The vast majority of insurance customers are honest, even in times of crisis,” said General Manager Jrg Asmussen.
The information provided by GDV shows that there is a relative increase across the industry: the number of claims in the corona pandemic declined overall, but the number of dubious claims remained almost unchanged. These dubious cases naturally make up a higher proportion of claims reports.
“There are indications that there was a shift away from private customers and towards the industries affected by the lockdown in these cases,” said Asmussen. “We estimate the total damage caused by insurance fraud at around 5 billion euros a year.”
The increase in attempted fraud of around 10 percent in motor vehicle insurance and in general liability of around 20 percent observed by Allianz is less self-explanatory. “Worldwide studies assume that between 10 and 15 percent of all claims reports are dubious. This also applies to Germany,” says Jochen Haug, CEO of Allianz Versicherungs-AG, the Munich-based company responsible for property insurance in Germany. “We have also observed that in times of crisis, attempts at fraud increase across all sectors.”
Haug therefore defends himself against the complaints about insurers who are unwilling to pay, which can be read frequently in online forums: “We are concerned with protecting honest customers who also pay for insurance fraud of others,” says the Allianz manager. “Every fraud that we don’t catch puts a strain on the insured community. The better our fraud protection is, the faster and easier we can pay the vast majority of our honest customers their justified claims.”
Insurance companies differentiate between two types of fraud: on the one hand, excessive claims reports, on the other hand, fictitious or deliberately caused damage. “Whenever a new iPhone generation was announced by Apple, the number of iPhones involved in accidents with very strange damage reports increased,” Haug cites an example. “This fact is now leveling off.”
Digitization has advantages and disadvantages for both the police and insurers. On the one hand, technology makes crime easier. Example of fictitious car accidents: “In the past, vehicles were actually damaged,” says Allianz manager Haug. “Today it is the case that the damage also occurs virtually on the screen using appropriate image processing programs.”
Quite apart from that, some economic crimes are unimaginable in the real world. One example are the investment vehicles who deal with virtual currencies such as Bitcoin. At the same time, technology makes detective work easier, from which investigators and insurance companies benefit equally.
In the case of bogus car accidents, for example, the car itself can help catch potential fraudsters. “Modern vehicles are equipped with an event data recorder,” says Christoph Lauterwasser, the managing director of the Allianz Center for Technology. Thanks to this automotive counterpart to the flight recorder, it is possible to find out, for example, whether a car driver intentionally accelerated to get rammed