Authors: PJF Agostinho AND CJ Cherry

Abstract: In the past decade, the topic of microinsurance has received much attention from researchers around the world as the drive to alleviate persistent global poverty intensifies. Although microinsurance is a powerful tool that can be used to assist in the fight against poverty by acting as a safety net for policyholders, the problem of claims fraud is a serious threat to its long-term sustainability. Analysis of the existing literature reveals a severe shortage of research into the problem of microinsurance claims fraud, even though we have found that it poses a greater threat in microinsurance than regular insurance. In this paper we highlight the problem of claims fraud in low-income markets and we explain how fraud has the potential to make microinsurance initiatives unsustainable. After establishing that action is needed to combat fraud in microinsurance, we briefly present a number of fraud mitigation techniques that have been successful in conventional insurance. However, certain characteristics that differentiate microinsurance from regular insurance reveal that most of these fraud combating approaches are not appropriate to microinsurance; the proportionately higher costs of identifying claims fraud relative to policy size, the lack of data and the lack of resources experienced by microinsurers render these methods impractical and unaffordable in the context of microinsurance. We proceed to demonstrate the workings of a statistical method known as Principle Component Analysis of Ridit Scores (the Pridit method), initially developed by Brockett et al. (2002) which has been shown to effectively identify fraudulent claims without the need for a training sample. The method can thus easily be applied by microinsurers to assist in the detection of claims fraud. While this method of fraud detection is not without limitations, it may provide a pragmatic and cost-effective way for microinsurers to begin tackling claims fraud. In this paper, the method is clearly explained by means of a worked example to help microinsurers implement the method at low cost.

Keywords: Microinsurance; cost-effective fraud identification; Pridit; unsupervised