Collaboration key for fighting fraud

Mar. 23, 2020 — DATA SHARING and collaboration were top of mind at the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s Fraud Forum held earlier this month in Toronto. 

Several speakers at the event stressed that insurance fraud can only be combatted by organizations working together and sharing information. 

“No one company or organization by itself will successfully combat crimes against our industry,” said Bryan Gast, the IBC’s national director of investigative services. “We need to leverage the combined strength of our technology, analytics, co-ordination, investigative abilities and public outreach.” 

Fraud is a crime that is not contained by borders, said Maria McDonald, deputy director and victim support strategy lead, investigation and support bureau with the Ontario Provincial Police. 

Therefore, she said, investigators need to be able to identify and gather data and share it across agencies and borders. 

“We’re not going to get there unless we break down those silos when talking about data,” OPP commissioner Thomas Carrique said. 

“But it’s more than just data. “We’ve seen a transition over 20 years of very competent, capable fraud investigators making their way into banks and insurance agencies and we need to leverage those partnerships because unless we’re able to share intelligence and leverage resources and partner together, we’re not going to be able to keep pace with the frequency and the volume and the magnitude of what we’re trying to do collectively.” 

Stephen Dalton, head of intelligence and investigations at the U.K’s Insurance Fraud Bureau, said Britain has a more advanced system of data collection and sharing than many other jurisdictions, and the consensus among insurers is that data sharing is a good thing. 

He said the U.K. has several databases, including a voluntary claims underwriting exchange that a number of insurers use and also a newly created intelligence database that allows insurers to share intelligence about suspected fraud.

Using those databases, the IFB can run analytics and exchange information with law enforcement agencies, insurance regulators, data protection offices, information commissioner’s office and legal services regulators. 

Several speakers pointed out that while data sharing is key to fighting fraud, privacy laws must be considered and followed carefully. 

Mr. Dalton noted that in the U.K., the data protection act of 2018 includes exemptions that allow companies to share personal information for the purposes of crime detection, prevention and investigation. 

“It’s all done on the basis of proportionality and reasonability — so it isn’t, by all means, a free-for-all,” he said. The OPP’s Ms. McDonald said Canada should consider giving investigators more ability to share private information to combat fraud. 

“In my view, I believe that we may need to make a change in legislation to ensure that we actually can share data in order to protect victims,” she said. “Because only by doing that will we be able to identify those major fraudsters.” 

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