Fraud: is there such a thing as an irrelevant lie?

This morning, for the majority of the Supreme Court, there definitely is. The Justices have decided 4:1, in Versloot Dredging v HDI Gerling & Others, that an insured may tell lies in the presentation of a claim and that the law will allow full recovery from its insurer. The qualifications are that such lies would need to be immaterial or collateral ones and that the claim is otherwise genuine as to liability and amount. Although this is said to serve to distinguish between the Versloot claim and cases of fraudulent exaggeration, it has to be said that distinction seems to be an extraordinarily fine one.

Quite what sort of message the majority decision sends to the insurance community at a time when there is significant political and business focus on the prevention, detection and prosecution of claims fraud across all lines of business will be worth further serious reflection over the short to medium term.

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