On Friday 28th July 2017, Christopher Bryan Hill, 59 of Launceston, was found guilty of fraud by false representation and sentenced to a 12-month custodial sentence at Truro Crown Court for attempting to claim £342,000 in compensation following an injury at work which he claimed left him with almost no use of his right arm.
The City of London Police, Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) were contacted in May 2016 by Travelers insurance company who provided employers liability cover on behalf of Hill’s former employer, H.R Jasper & Son Ltd. Travelers conducted their own investigation into Hill’s claim and discovered inconsistencies in his account and the level of injury he actually sustained.
Hill injured his wrist while working for H.R Jasper, an abattoir on 20th February 2012. He sought the attention of a first aider after complaining of a pain and burning in his wrist which then spread up his right arm. He then attended a local Minor Injuries Unit where he was treated. Over the next 21 months he met with his employer’s HR Manager which ultimately resulted in his dismissal due to incapacity. Hill did not challenge this decision and his employment ended on 29th November 2013.
On 21st May 2013, almost six months after his dismissal, solicitors acting on behalf of Hill notified Travelers Insurance of his claim for loss of earnings, medical, travel and care expenses. The claim stated that Hill had sustained a significant injury to his right hand whilst pulling the skin off some meat. On 14th May 2015 legal proceedings were issued by Hill’s solicitor stating that they were looking to recover £52,775.
Travelers requested that medical reports be completed in order to confirm Hill’s injury. A medical report from 15th September 2014 outlined the treatments Hill had received. It concluded that it was difficult to determine the exact nature of his injury but the medical professionals conducting the report would have expected a full recovery within 3 months. Hill however complained of excessive pain and so had been unable to return to work.
The Claims and Underwriting Exchange (CUE) was checked by Travelers to determine whether Hill had made any previous insurance claims. This check identified a road traffic accident on 18th June 2012 where Hill had stated he was the driver at the time of the accident and had subsequently made a claim. This contradicts Hill’s assertion in September 2014 that his injury in February 2012 had prevented him from driving.
In March 2015, the claim handler at Travelers referred the case into their Special Investigation Unit so that further investigation could take place. Travelers instructed an external specialist to conduct surveillance on Hill when he attended his medical appointments. During this surveillance between 6 and 7 October 2015 and between 16th and 17th December, Hill was recorded driving and carrying heavy items including paint cans, activities which he denied being able to do.
This surveillance footage was sent to the solicitors representing Hill and his claim was subsequently withdrawn. Following an investigation by IFED starting in May 2016, Hill was invited to attend a voluntary interview on 26 July 2016. When interviewed Hill denied exaggerating the nature and seriousness of his medical condition however he was ultimately charged. The total potential claim value is believed to have been £342,000 to account for general damages, special damages, claimant costs and defence costs.
Detective Sergeant Matt Hussey of the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department said: “Hill used his injury to take advantage of his ex-employer and the insurance company for his own financial greed. By working with Hill’s ex-employer and the insurance companies involved, we were able to prove that he was able to drive and that his injury claim had been exaggerated.
“The sentence here today should act as a warning to others who believe that, like Hill, they can defraud insurance companies with lies and exaggerated claims – justice will be served.”
Niall Dowdall, Head of Claim Europe at Travelers said: “The sentence given to Mr Hill is as a result of the dedication and partnership that we had throughout the investigation with the officers managing this case within IFED. This shows that insurance fraud doesn’t pay.”