Psychology: the study of the soul – pioneered by Thales and Aristotle, perfected by Paul McKenna. Now insurers are applying the powerful techniques this intriguing discipline offers to find out if you’re lying.

“Criminal actions cast a shadow…” the British Psychological Society claims poetically on its website, “but psychological science can reveal the source.” Now, Insurance Times reveals, insurers like Axa, Aviva, Avaxa and Zurich are “using investigative psychology techniques to assess the credibility of home and motor insurance claims.”

Innovation Group claims to have used staff trained in the powerful techniques of IP to analyse 900 suspect claims between August and November 2010, helping insurers throw out roughly half of them. IP is the way to go, IG claim, wheeling in Dr Sharon Veal of Portsmouth University to dismiss traditional techniques focusing on detecting signs of nervousness and guilt as “no better than tossing a coin.”

“Clients are looking to service providers such as ourselves for help,” claimed IG MD Bob Thomson perspiring visibly and repeatedly touching his hand to his mouth. “Innovation Group is making innovative use of investigative psychology to offer insurance companies a proven approach which delivers compelling return on investment.”

In case you are worried none of this sounds scientific enough yet, IG have some jargon ready at hand: they are using Criteria-Based Content Analysis (CBCA) a core tool of Statement Validity Assessment (SVA) and they’ve bunged over £100k to Ms Veal and her Portsmouth colleagues to look at the application of CBCA in reducing fraud levels in motor insurance.

A spokesman for a major insurer commented: “These exciting and powerful new techniques could prove a major weapon in our ongoing battle against paying claims… sorry… against the dishonest minority who are spoiling it for everyone else. We are also keen, however, to look into the coin tossing approach, which could offer significant cost benefits.”


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