Relatives who take up life insurance cover for their kin and kill them in order to get claims have shocked insurance fraud investigators trailing a cartel in the industry.
Insurance Regulatory Authority fraud investigation officers and private detectives hired by the underwriters have uncovered incidents involving such relatives who take multiple life insurance covers on their unsuspecting kin and plan their murders to mint millions from insurance claims.
One such case that startled investigators involved a former insurance unit manager who managed to take two life insurance covers for a nephew, but is suspected to have planned the young man’s murder and allegedly had the body dumped in Kangundo before rushing to lodge for claims.
The investigators, who spoke to the Nation, said the man raised suspicion after he piled undue pressure for compensation, saying he needed the money to travel to Australia.
The former insurance staff had taken a Sh10 million cover for his nephew, aged 27 years old, and another one for Sh1 million at a separate firm. He had only made one premium payment before the murder happened.
He had succeeded in lodging a claim for the more lucrative of the two covers and was in the process of pushing for the approval of the second one when he raised suspicions.
A confidential investigation report seen by the Nation linked the suspect to the murder of his nephew with whom, call data revealed, they were together moments before he disappeared despite him denying it in sworn statements.
“The beneficiary’s recorded statement with Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Kangundo police indicates that he was not together with the deceased on the material day. However, call data report for the two with the CID officer confirmed that the deceased and the beneficiary were together all afternoon through to 10pm, on the material day,” reads the report.
An autopsy report indicated that the young man died from severe head injury secondary to trauma from a blunt object.
“Based on the findings, there is a lot of indication to support “murder for profit fraud” being perpetuated by the claimant/beneficiary,” investigators concluded in their findings in June.
The alleged fraudster relative was also found with two death certificates having two different serial numbers (225591 and 153230) which he was preparing to use to lodge other claims.
Fraud investigators say the vice is on the rise with many people taking advantage to collude with insurance staff to process fake claims as the sector loses millions.
About 10 other similar cases involving spouses have been reported sparking fears from the insurers who now have to dig deep on the motive for taking a life cover before allowing it on anyone especially those who preferred “very lucrative covers.”
They said although fake graves and many people walking around with death certificates “was a common occurrence, the new wave of murder for profit was outrageous.”
“We don’t know what to tell most people who take covers for their spouses because while a majority are now preferring to keep it secret, it is not advisable as the claim may take long to process if your next of kin is not aware of the cover in the first place,” one insurance company staff said.
Tom Gichuhi, the executive director of the Association of Kenya Insurers, said the new trend of relatives placing life covers on others and killing them for profit was a weakness perpetrated by collusion from insiders since they ought to have questioned the motive behind such covers in the first place.
He said one would not be able to justify why a relatively poor kin would need to have a life cover in the first place, let alone an expensive one.
“What is the insurable interest, for example, in taking a life cover for a nephew? That is the question anyone processing the cover ought to ask but it may be a collusion from within which explains why those behind it operate with impunity. That is the lowest one can bend to make profit. I am equally shocked because we know fake deaths, especially for couples, is a common occurrence,” Mr Gichuhi said.
Reports indicate that poor data sharing among insurance companies themselves has enabled the fraudsters to take multiple covers and make millions from a single individual.
The fraudsters collude to obtain death certificates allowing the reportedly “dead” people to hold both national identity cards and death certificates at the same time, an unusual occurrence since IDs are surrendered when applying for death certificates.
The insurers who largely fail to report fraud for fear of reputation damage also said life cover fraud is the most difficult to detect as people only claim in case of death, hence the restraint from allowing so much doubt when one is already aggrieved.
Data from IRA Insurance Fraud Investigation Unit shows that it made the least number of detected forms of fraud reported in 2015 with only three valued at Sh2.2 million confirmed despite a 21.8 per cent rise in reported fraud incidents.
Intention is to get millions of shillings from claims, according to regulator.