Insurer achieves custodial sentences, sending clear message to ‘opportunistic’ insurance fraudsters
Manchester, 16th June 2015 – Sentences and fines have, been handed down at Cardiff High Court to two individuals found guilty of contempt of court in relation to a claim for personal injury made to leading insurer, Admiral. Damian Hawkins received a custodial sentence of two months and Samantha Presdee-Hughes received a one month custodial sentence, suspended for two years.
Admiral, which was represented by Horwich Farrelly, received a claim for whiplash made by Damien Hawkins regarding a road traffic accident on 30th March 2012. The persistence to pursue the fraudulent claim illustrates the lengths to which fraudsters will go, further exacerbated by the fact that a second individual involved in the fraudulent claim, Samantha Presdee-Hughes, was an ex-employee of Admiral. The custodial sentencing handed down demonstrates that the courts will support the efforts of the insurance industry to tackle this type of ‘opportunistic’ fraud.
Hawkins, on first making his claim, argued that Presdee-Hughes had been driving his vehicle and Hawkins was merely a passenger. However, the Admiral policyholder confirmed that Presdee- Hughes was not present at all. Despite being challenged on the issue of occupancy in the vehicle and the identity of the driver, Presdee-Hughes and Hawkins maintained that Presdee-Hughes was the driver and telephoned her former employer claiming both she and Hawkins were injured - subsequently Hawkins sought representation from solicitors who claimed he had been injured.
Despite the claim being worth under £5,000, the resultant two day trial saw both defendants and a witness confirm their evidence on oath during lengthy cross-examination. Amazingly Samantha Presdee-Hughes represented herself against her former employers and cross-examined the Admiral policyholder on her recollection of the event in order to try to persuade the Court that she really was the driver. Yet detailed investigation undertaken by Admiral called into question the claims of the defendants and the court dismissed the claim for personal injury with the result that both individuals were found in contempt and sentenced today.
Susan Evans, Head of Fraud at Admiral Group, said: “It is vital the insurance industry stands as one against fraudulent claims – it is therefore pleasing to see the Courts supporting our action, as in this case. We must protect the premiums of honest policyholders by making sure that fraudsters are brought to justice.”
Ronan McCann, fraud partner at Horwich Farrelly added: “The public and their advisors must be aware that, however easy it is to make false claims, the consequences for those tempted to do so will be disastrous. Samantha Presdee-Hughes used the knowledge she had obtained, through the gift of her employment with Admiral, against them, which is something that Admiral will show a zero tolerance to. The sentences highlight that insurance fraud is not an issue the Courts or Admiral will ignore, with long term consequences for those tempted to behave that way.”