A nationwide risk management campaign to tackle metal theft was among winners at the 2008 British Insurance Awards.
Ecclesiastical Insurance won the ‘Risk Management Award’ for its SmartWater campaign, beating Aon Global Risk Consulting, Dixons Stores Group International, National Grid and THB Risk Management. The winning campaign centred on the deployment of SmartWater’s forensic security products to code lead, copper and other metals on over 16,500 church roofs. SmartWater is widely recognised by the Police as a longstanding deterrent because of its forensic properties and its ability to link the criminal back to the crime scene.
In 2007 alone Ecclesiastical received over 2,300 claims at a cost of over £9m for the theft of mainly lead from church roofs. Sheffield, Nottingham and Manchester were the hardest-hit areas of the country, suffering more than 200 claims between them in 2007.
The first of its kind in the UK, the campaign was launched in November 2007 with the support of police and received widespread national and regional press coverage.
Ian Wainwright, Ecclesiastical’s Group Chief Surveyor, said: "A few years ago metal theft was perceived as a petty crime, now it is widely acknowledged as an epidemic. It is seriously affecting lives and disrupting communities all over the country and it is one of the police’s top priorities.
"We were the only insurer to tackle this problem head-on. We set up a team dedicated to stamping it out. We were the first insurer to provide free security guidance and post it on our website. We helped our church customers who have been particularly hard-hit by sending them a free supply of high tech security protection, SmartWater. We also shouted about the problem, getting the insurance industry and general public to sit up and notice.
"However, our work isn’t done yet. Thieves continue to target metal anywhere they can get their hands on it. We need to continue to be vigilant and ensure properties are protected."
Phil Cleary, Chief Executive Officer of SmartWater, said: "On behalf of everyone at SmartWater we would like to congratulate Ecclesiastical Insurance on this wonderful achievement.
"The problem of metal theft has been widely reported, with one Police area announcing a shocking 340pc rise in the number of incidents over the last twelve months. Ecclesiastical Insurance is proactively addressing this issue, and we will continue to work closely with them, and with the Police Service, to tackle this nationwide epidemic."
The Insurance Fraud Bureau was a finalist in another category, claims initiative. Judges included Dr Lynn Drennan, chief executive of Alarm – a national body for risk managers in the public sector.
The awards were announced at a ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall in London on July 9. Steve Wood, Managing Director, Ecclesiastical UK said: “Winning the award is a tribute to so many people right across our business. This has been a real team effort and, although the theft of metal problem is not yet behind us, it’s a great achievement.”
Dishonest motorists who see insurance as a way to clear their debts or make money face a nasty surprise. Figures released today by the ABI (Association of British Insurers) show that last year insurers uncovered 24,000 fraudulent motor insurance claims worth £260 million, or £5 million every week. The number of dishonest motor claims detected has risen by 70% over the last three years.
Cheats who have been caught out include:
A policyholder, claiming for damage to her Land Rover when it hit the front of her house, said it was caused when her foot slipped off the brake. However, the damage was caused deliberately, following an argument with her partner.
A car owner claimed his car had been stolen. It was proved that he had pushed it over a cliff, and planned to use the insurance payout to meet his Hire Purchase payments.
The owner of a Rolls Royce claimed £10,000 for the alleged theft of the front grill, hubcaps, steering wheel, seats and bonnet mascot. However, he had removed the items himself; they were later found in his home by the police. He received a criminal conviction. Nick Starling, the ABI’s Director of General Insurance and Health, said: “Insurance fraud is no victimless crime. Honest motorists pay through higher insurance premiums – an extra £40 a year on average. This is why insurers are ramping up their crackdown to weed out the cheats. Anyone committing insurance fraud is more likely to get caught, risks a criminal record, and will find future insurance and credit harder to obtain and more expensive.”