Phoney catcher: Hibernian Aviva

Insurance firm Hibernian Aviva is to introduce phone 'lie-detector' technology to Ireland which will enable it to determine whether people are lying about their claims.

The move sees Hibernian follow in the footsteps of US banks and insurance firms who already use such systems. UK banking and insurance giant HBOS also uses "voice-sensitive lie detectors" to cut down on fraudulent insurance claims.

The system, known as a "voice stress monitor" picks up speech patterns such as long pauses before answering questions and has proven successful for other insurance firms.

Although reluctant to give specific details on the company's anti-fraud measures, a spokesman for Hibernian Aviva, which has 1.2 million policy holders in Ireland, said: "We have invested heavily in anti-fraud measures over the years and continue to do so. Fraud prevention and deterrence is a central component in helping us keep insurance premiums at a low level.

"Hibernian Aviva will, later this month, begin a small pilot project that will use voice- analysis technology to record and analyse claims calls. The primary objective of this project is to manage and filter genuine customer transactions more swiftly by enabling our call handlers to more accurately assess claims statements as they are reported. This serves to en­hance the experience of genuine customers, while offering appropriate levels of resistance to potential fraudsters."

Hibernian's move comes as the Insurance Industry Federation (IIF) launched a new anti-fraud campaign last Monday.

Michael Horan, non-life manager in the Irish Insurance Federation (IIF), said: "There is definitely an increase in claims in the recession. The number of calls we get to our confidential help­line, where people can report fraud, is running at twice the level of 2008.

"We had 562 calls in the year up to October 2009, compared to 265 in the same period last year. That would suggest the number of fraudulent claims is going up as well."