Insurer taps voice analysis tech to detect fraud

Stress detector 'flags' dodgy claims for Esure

Online insurer Esure is to use technology that recognises when a speaker is under stress in a bid to detect fraud.

The company hopes using voice risk analysis (VRA) technology will speed genuine claims, cut fraud and make its claims process more efficient. Reducing fraud will help keep premiums down for the honest majority, esure says.

VRA - which identifies micro changes in the voice that can occur when a speaker is showing higher levels of stress - will be used by esure from 4 December.

The company is keen to emphasise that the technology is a "stress detector" not a lie detector.

When a speaker experiences stress when answering a question or recounting an exaggerated or false statement, the frequency of their voice changes, according to studies originally conducted in Israel. It is this factor that VRA registers and assesses. The system compares responses to particular questions with baseline responses, answers to simple questions that can only be answered truthfully.

Esure pledges that it will never treat VRA analysis as "evidence" of potential fraud. In cases where high levels of risk are registered, the system only be used as a "flag" to trigger further investigation of any potentially suspicious elements within the claim.

Where no problems are detected, the technology will be used to 'fast-track' claims.

The six month pilot for the VRA system - which was developed and marketed by Digilog - will initially be used to analyse higher risk claims, such as unrecovered thefts and write-off car claims. Over time, the role of the technology will likely be expanded to cover accidents and home insurance claims. Esure is confident the system can deal with people with accents or stutters.

Gordon Hannah, Esure's Head of Claims, said: "Voice Risk Analysis cannot disadvantage a genuine claimant, it will only ever speed up their claim. It will, however, provide an indicator of potentially fraudulent claims and can help direct the search for concrete evidence of fraud. If none is found, the claim will be paid as with any other.

"This system is not intrusive. Claimants will be told clearly that their call is being recorded and analysed. We believe the honest majority is fed up with funding the cost of fraud so it is essential that esure works to identify and act against potential fraud," she added.

Esure is soliciting feedback over its plans from UK civil liberties and consumer groups. It expressed confidence that it can reassure them about any concerns they might have about unwarranted intrusion or error (false positives) the system might produce. ®

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