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Allianz and Keoghs stand firm in face of intimidation tactics

News And Events11/03/2020

Humberto & Marchioro v Tulio & Allianz Insurance PLC

A recent staged road traffic accident which included a particularly high value credit hire claim, has been successfully defended at trial by Keoghs and Allianz. The case was particularly notable for the claimant solicitor’s aggressive tactics against the insurer and the subsequent bringing of a credit hire company into proceedings.

Background

It was alleged that Allianz’s policyholder had reversed into the claimant’s stationary vehicle which contained both the first claimant and passenger, a minor, for whom a claim was also lodged.

The first claimant confirmed that he did not know the policyholder, however Keoghs intelligence reports revealed that they were actually Facebook friends, whilst various other links between them were also uncovered.

Given this evidence, a successful application was made amending the defence to fundamental dishonesty and the case proceeded to trial.

Muddying the waters

Due to the significant amount of intelligence, the claimant solicitors applied for the Keoghs intelligence analyst to be cross-examined at trial, which, given the strength of the case, Keoghs consented to.

However the solicitors then took proceedings a step further by raising a staggering 54 Part 18 questions directly to Allianz, most of which had no bearing on the case itself. Rather these questions were designed to call into question Allianz’s processes and methods of fraud detection.

This was part of an overall approach by the claimant solicitor which amounted to little more than scaremongering in an attempt to obtain a settlement from Allianz, which even included the ludicrous suggestion that Allianz had pleaded fundamental dishonesty due to the fact the claimant was Brazilian.

These intimidatory tactics were taken a step further with the threat of summonsing the specific Allianz case handler to court in order to answer the multitude of Part 18 questions. This was strongly and successfully resisted by both the insurer and Keoghs.

Nevertheless Keoghs was prepared for its intelligence analyst to be cross-examined about Allianz’s fraud criteria with defence counsel, Paul Higgins of Crown Office Chambers, prepared to strongly object.

Trial judgment

The case was listed for a two day trial where the judge found that the accident was staged and both the first and second claimant were fundamentally dishonest, with the claimant to pay an interim costs payment.

Credit hire company implicated

However this was not the end of the matter. The first claimant stated at trial that the credit hire company involved, MVS London Limited, was the driving force behind the litigation, with a potential inducement payment of £200 in the claimant’s bank account.

Whilst MVS claimed this was related to a repair of the hire vehicle, a subsequent hearing took place in February which led to the hire company being brought into proceedings and ordered to pay Allianz’s costs for the entirety of the action.

Keoghs Fraud Partner, Ruth Needham, was delighted with the result, saying;

“It’s vital for the insurance industry that the increasing number of third party enablers in such fraud cases are brought to account, if they are pushing the claimant to litigate. This case is a fantastic example of continuing to work beyond an initial trial judgment, in order to hit such companies where it hurts – in their pockets.”

James Burge, Fraud Manager, Allianz Insurance, said;

“Allianz has repeated on many occasions that we have a zero tolerance to fraud and we will investigate, work with partners and the Police to make sure that fraudsters are caught and punished.  As with this case, we stood firm and refused to be intimidated, it is our duty to continue to fight fraud and protect our honest customers.”

 For more information, please contact Ruth Needham.