Vertical Markets

Parliament looks at investigators

by Mark Rowe

An investigations company is today warning parliamentarians of the potential loopholes, pitfalls and questions still to address about badging of investigators. AGS Risk Solutions was to tell the All Party Parliamentary Group on Insurance and Financial Services, that while the new regime is welcome, there are a considerable number of potential loopholes, pitfalls and questions still to address.

Mark Wilcox, Managing Director at AGS, said before the meeting: “There are problems [in the new regime] which may cause concern for customers who want to investigate a potentially fraudulent insurance claim or transaction.

“These include poorly defined clauses within the act itself referring to ‘consent’ to investigation. For our insurer clients there remains uncertainty as currently consent according to the Act is given by policyholders. But questions need to be asked as to where the insurer stands in obtaining consent from a third party or a witness; at present no clear definitions exist. This risks creating an entire industry around obtaining consent for those businesses who wish to avoid the need for licensing. And obtaining consent on every occasion risks introducing delays to the claims handling process which will increase costs and interrupt the customer journey.”

Similarly, he pointed to a danger that a ‘two tier’ evidence system may result from submissions by licenced and non-licenced organisations. “This may encourage opposition lawyers to question evidence submitted by in-house staff at insurance companies or banks who operate without licences, in favour of investigators authorised by the SIA.”

Mark stressed that the new regime, while welcome and providing peace of mind, should not be used at the expense of proper due diligence. “We would recommend that companies enhance their due diligence process further with increased numbers of site visits, as from experience these are often conducted as paper exercises, with little by way of practical ‘testing’. We would like to see suitably qualified staff conducting audit visits alongside investigators to assess their actual ability to deliver. Obtaining an SIA investigators’ licence should never be seen as a reason, or used as an excuse to reduce the need for companies to undertake robust due diligence checks. When companies choose to delegate any part of their business to a supplier, this should see a commensurate increase in the audit function, focused on ensuring the supplier meets theirs and their clients’ needs.”

For more about the all-party group visit – http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmallparty/register/insurance-and-financial-services.htm.

Background

The Home Office announced in summer 2013 that private investigators would be badged by the SIA.

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