Leicester man sentenced and ordered to pay back £56,000 from home insurance fraud

An insurance fraudster from Leicester has been sentenced after he made a bogus claim on a newly incepted home insurance policy, which cost his insurer over £56,000.

 The case was flagged to detectives from the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED), after it emerged that the flood damage he was claiming for actually occurred the day before he took out the policy.

Sundeep Patel, Leicester, was sentenced at Leicester Crown Court on 7th September, to eight months’ imprisonment (suspended for two years) after previously pleading guilty to fraud by false representation. He was also ordered to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work and the judge issued a confiscation order for £56,456, which Patel has three months to pay back to the insurer or face six months’ imprisonment.

On 29th July 2013, Patel contacted Direct Line Group (DLG) to take out a home insurance policy. He was asked the usual set of questions, which included whether his property was flooded, to which he answered ‘no’ and a policy was put in place.

The following night, Patel contacted DLG to inform them that his cellar had been flooded and told them that the flooding had started at around 19:40hrs – supposedly only 20 minutes prior to his call to DLG. The claim was initially dealt with as genuine and temporary accommodation was provided to Patel and his family, and remedial work and repairs were commenced.

However, when DLG contacted Severn Trent Water, it emerged that Patel reported the flooding to them on 28 July – before he took out the policy with DLG. Contractors also visited Patel’s house on the morning of 29 July and took pictures of the damage – again prior to Patel taking out the home insurance policy with DLG.

It was now clear that Patel had lied to DLG when he took out the policy and when he made the claim and the case was referred to IFED for investigation. Despite halting any further payouts on the policy at that point, DLG had already incurred costs of over £56,000 for the remedial works and accommodation that had been provided.

After making further enquiries, IFED detectives questioned Patel, where he tried to deny that he had lied when incepting the policy with DLG and claimed he couldn’t remember the exact dates and times of when the flooding occurred.

When they checked, officers also found that his previous home insurance policy had elapsed on 23 May 2013, meaning Patel was without home insurance cover for just over a month before he took out the new policy with DLG.

Detective Constable Pete Gartland, from the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department said:

“Patel lied when he took out the policy and then lied again when making the claim to try and shift the cost of repairs on to Direct Line Group. Even though this fraud was quickly spotted, it still left the insurer out of pocket to the tune of £56k and fraudulent claims such as these push premiums up for honest customers.

“Quite simply, lying to insurers when you take out a policy or when you make a claim is fraud, it is a serious criminal offence and is not worth the risk. Patel now has a criminal conviction and also has to sell his home to pay the money back or face time in jail.”

Mike Brown Head of Counter Fraud Intelligence with Direct Line Group, said: “This was a clear case of Fraud. Mr Patel deliberately lied in order to secure a home policy in an effort to cover the costs of repair to his property. Patel's sentence should serve as a stark warning to those that seek to commit insurance fraud in the future.

"Insurance fraud is not a victimless crime. In fact, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) estimates the cost of fraudulent insurance claims adds approximately £50 a year to the average household's insurance premiums.

“At Direct Line Group, we have a dedicated Counter Fraud team to detect, disrupt and deter as much fraud as possible using highly skilled investigators, intelligence and sophisticated data analysis, across our whole business and supply network. We work in partnership with law enforcement agencies across the country to prosecute those involved in this type of criminality, assisting in preparing cases for criminal prosecution and protecting the wider public and enabling us to protect the premiums of our innocent customers.”