Reports of insurance fraud tripled between 2018 and 2020: Shanmugam

Reports of insurance fraud increased to 71 in 2020, from 20 in 2018. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: PEXELS

SINGAPORE - Insurance fraud is on the rise here, and in 2020, the Government received more than three times the number of reports of such claims compared with in 2018.

Over the past three years, reports of insurance fraud increased to 71 in 2020 from 20 in 2018, said Minister for Law and Home Affairs K. Shanmugam on Monday (Jan 10) in a written reply to a parliamentary question.

He was responding to a question from Mr Darryl David (Ang Mo Kio GRC), who asked for data on insurance fraud here, and for updates on Singapore's efforts to combat such crime.

The increase is largely due to a jump in reports related to fraudulent health insurance claims, which rose to 32 reports in 2020, from five in 2018, said Mr Shanmugam.

"This sharp increase is due to a single case where 22 reports were lodged against an Indonesian national who submitted multiple fraudulent medical insurance claims." Mr Shanmugam added that the man was arrested in Singapore in February 2020, and sentenced to three years and two months' jail in September that year.

The minister said the police work with partner agencies and industry stakeholders such as the General Insurance Association of Singapore (GIA) to investigate and combat insurance fraud.

The police's Specialised Fraud Insurance Branch is part of the Insurance Fraud Committee chaired by GIA, which shares information, crime trends and best practices on detecting and preventing insurance fraud, he added.

"For example, when SPF (Singapore Police Force) receives reports of new variants of insurance fraud, it will alert GIA and insurers to review safeguards and conduct more stringent checks to verify the authenticity of claims," he said.

The police also provide information on possible characteristics of fraudulent insurance claims to refine GIA's Fraud Management System, which uses data analytics to enhance the detection and analysis of potential fraudulent and duplicate claims.

Mr Shanmugam said the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) expects all insurers and insurance intermediaries to have in place a robust fraud risk management framework commensurate with the size and complexity of their operations.

He added that MAS carries out regular reviews and on-site inspections of insurers to identify control gaps, including areas that may increase susceptibility to fraud. Insurers are required to promptly put in place remedial actions to address these findings.

Those who file - or collude with fraudsters to file - fraudulent insurance claims can be charged with cheating-related offences which carry maximum jail terms of between three and 10 years, said Mr Shanmugam.

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