LTO tells insurers: Let's work together to address fraud

The new chief of the Land Transportation Office urged insurance companies to help him fight corruption in his agency and to address insurance fraud.

Speaking at the 1st Motor Car Insurance Summit at the PICC, Assistant Secretary Edgar Galvante told insurance executives that he is willing to work with them to develop a database that would address flaws in LTO registration, which are oftentimes cited as a cause of insurance fraud.

"Let's develop a database that could solve this (insurance fraud). Let us work together," he told more than 200 attendees of the summit that included officers of the Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Galvante also stressed that the LTO will not anymore accredit insurance companies and will simply recognize the list of insurance companies authorized by the Insurance Commission to sell car insurance.

And he said LTO employees from hereon will be prohibited from selling insurance or recommending certain insurance companies to motorists who register their motor vehicles with the agency.

"It is not the LTO's job to sell insurance or even regulate insurance companies. The Insurance Commission is the one with the mandate to regulate these companies. We will just follow whatever the IC says," he said, to the cheer of the audience.

Michael Rellosa, deputy chairman of the Philippine Insurers and Reinsurers Association (PIRA), considered Galvante's declaration a "whiff of fresh air that the insurance industry badly needs."

PIRA is the association of all non-life insurance companies in the country with 65 companies as members. During the Motor Car Insurance Summit, they shared experiences on how they are dealing with insurance fraud.

Ramon Dimacali, president of FPG Insurance, presented his company's best practice of using technology in addressing fraud.

Being the former president of IBM Philippines, Dimacali developed ways of detecting and preventing fraud through the efficient use of computers and even social media.

He estimates that 10 percent of the P7 billion car insurance claims last year could be fraudulent. And he pointed out that the biggest loser here are motorists who have to pay higher insurance premium because rates are computed based on the ratio between insurance premiums and losses.

Galvante said he was surprised to know the huge cost both to insurance companies and to motorists of insurance fraud. "Before I thought it was the insurance companies that are fraudulent. Yun pala insurance companies din ang biktima," he said.

Senior Superintendent Fortunato Guerrero of the PNP-HPG agreed with this observation. He presented ways by which individuals and organized crime syndicates defraud insurance firms by filing fraudulent claims through staged accidents, fake carnapping, tampered registration papers, and other modus operandi.

He shared the good news, however, that carnapping incidents have gone down by 19 percent, from 6302 for January to June last year to 5087 for the same period this year.

Just like Galvante and Guerrero vowed to help curb insurance fraud by sharing data with insurance companies and being steadfast in going after those who perpetrate this crime.

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