Published: 10 January 2022
Mr Darryl David: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs regarding insurance fraud in Singapore (a) whether the Ministry can provide an update on the situation and the police’s action to combat such fraud; (b) whether there has there been an uptrend over the past three years; (c) how do the police and the General Insurance Association of Singapore (GIA) jointly combat such fraud; and (d) how does the Ministry deal with industry professionals who knowingly collude with fraudsters to file fraudulent insurance claims.
Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law:
1. Insurance fraud typically involves the submission of fraudulent and inflated claims, or the submission of duplicate claims to multiple insurers.
2. Over the past three years, the number of reports of insurance fraud has increased, from 20 in 2018, to 71 in 2020. The increase is largely attributed to an increase in reports of fraudulent health insurance claims – these increased from five reports in 2018 to 32 reports in 2020. 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. He was arrested in February 2020 in Singapore, and in September 2020 was sentenced to three years and two months’ imprisonment.
3. The Police works with partner agencies and industry stakeholders such as the General Insurance Association of Singapore (GIA) to investigate and combat insurance fraud. The Specialised Fraud Insurance Branch within the Commercial Affairs Department is part of the Insurance Fraud Committee chaired by GIA, which shares information, crime trends and best practices relating to the detection and prevention of insurance fraud. For example, when SPF 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. In addition, SPF also provides information on possible characteristics of fraudulent insurance claims to refine GIA’s Fraud Management System which was implemented in 2017. This system enhances the detection and analysis of potential fraudulent and duplicate claims through data analytics.
4. In addition, 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. MAS carries out regular reviews and on-site inspections of insurers to identify control gaps, including areas which may increase susceptibility to fraud. Where such control gaps exist, insurers are required to promptly address these findings and put in place remedial actions.
5. Individuals who file, or collude with fraudsters to file, fraudulent insurance claims can be charged with one of the cheating-related offences under Sections 417 to 420 of the Penal Code, which carry maximum imprisonment terms between three and ten years. Industry professionals may also be subject to additional regulatory penalties. For example, MAS has issued Prohibition Orders against former insurance agents who were involved in fraudulent activities and dishonest conduct under the Financial Advisers Act and the Insurance Act.