A man who faked accidents in his ice cream van and a gang of laughing conmen are among those caught trying to cheat insurance companies last year.

Figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) show that more than 130,000 fraudulent claims were detected in 2015 – that’s 2,500 a week.

Those caught out include a man convicted of staging fake road accidents in a Mr Whippy ice cream van, who would have pocketed around £100,000 if he’d been successful.

Insurance cheats do not lack nerve or ingenuity

James Dalton, director of general insurance policy, ABI
Atom 233 lives here

A gang of 19 fraudsters were jailed for between 12 and 21 months after faking a bus crash. CCTV footage showed them laughing as they feigned whiplash injuries.

And an aircraft engineer was jailed for two years after claiming he’d lost £189,000 worth of luggage on a flight – his suitcases were shown to have been empty when they were checked in.

A failed luggage scam landed an aircraft engineer with a two-year jail term. Image by Brian A Jackson/Shutterstock.com

In all, fraudulent claims were valued at £1.3bn last year, down slightly on the year before.

Dishonest motor claims were the most common frauds, with 70,000 detected and with a value of £800m.

The number of liability frauds, such as ‘slip and trip’ claims, went up by a third to 26,900 and were valued at £391m.

James Dalton, ABI’s director of general insurance policy, said: “Insurance cheats do not lack nerve or ingenuity, which is why there will be no let-up in the industry’s commitment to protect honest customers.

“The chances of getting caught have never been greater, and the consequences, such as a prison sentence and difficulty in getting future insurance and other financial products, have never been more severe and long-lasting.

“The scale of frauds uncovered shows that the industry’s £200m a year investment in tackling fraud is paying dividends, as is the collaboration with the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) and the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED).”

Ben Fletcher, director of the IFB, said new systems built to find property and liability scams will double the number of new scams identified by the IFB over the next three years.

Detective Chief Inspector Oliver Little, of IFED, said: “A lot of insurance fraud is stopped by the industry but when they succeed, fraudsters take money from all of us. 

“What these figures can’t show is the links we’ve seen in a hardcore of organised criminals between crash for cash and other serious organised crime. 

“Nor can these figures do justice to the real danger of serious injury or death these people bring to our roads.”