Bwaa-ha-ha! Drivers, ever feel the hairs stiffen on the back of your neck, an icy frisson cursing down your spine, an inexplicable sense of dread? Any of these, basically, and it could mean you’re unwittingly playing host to the latest scourge of the insurance claims universe.

Could it be there’s a “ghost passenger” haunting your back seat?

According to legal beagles Keoghs, Insurance claims involving such “ghost passengers” are – like the ‘bad moon’ so affectingly immortalised in song by popular music ensembles Creedence Clearwater, Sonic Youth et al – on the rise. As if their mere presence weren’t sinister enough in itself, it seems these ghouls are somehow implicated in the business of fraudulent insurance claims making.

Never ones to voice an original opinion where there’s an authority to be cited, the lawyers quote Adrian Webb, Corporate Communications Manager at esure. Commenting in “the Scotland on Sunday” Webb says tens of millions of pounds were paid out in cases involving such phantoms during 2009. Presumably this estimate includes monies paid out to spirit fraudsters in the England and the Wales as well as the Scotland, and possibly even in the top-right corner of a largish island to the west.

With less than startling originality, Webb blames the recession.

Notwithstanding their non-corporeal status, these unscrupulous wraiths, it seems, are strongly actuated by the allure of filthy lucre. Enticed by the “financial opportunities of a burgeoning compensation culture,” he says, they know “that if they work hard enough at a lie, they stand a chance of receiving a large cheque from companies who don’t investigate claims hard enough.”

Based on this eloquent and doubtless definitive testimony, Keoghs conclude that “The number of people committing insurance claims fraud by alleging that a passenger in a vehicle was injured in a crash when in fact they were not present at the scene of the accident” may be rising.

Since “injuries” to spirit beings are not generally covered by motor insurance policies, neglecting to mention the fact that a passenger is no longer in the land of the living (and therefore presumably has only a limited capacity for being demonstrably present anywhere in anything other than an eerily numinous kind of way) might perhaps be considered a graver omission.

With so few psychic claims investigators currently working, the big question for anxious motor insurers, presumably, is “Who you gonna call?”

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