Snooping car insurers are using innocent omissions and mistakes in information provided by motorists to deny claims or increase premiums, according to new evidence.

A recent report by This Is Money revealed that insurers run checks on people through an industry-funded database called the ‘Claims and Underwriting Exchange’.

In one case, a motorist was asked for an extra payment by Diamond, part of the Admiral Group, because they had discovered records of two incidents for which she had not made any claim.

In one instance, some youngsters had jumped on the bonnet of the woman’s Mini causing damage costing less to repair than her excess. She had phoned to inquire about her cover and decided not to claim.

In another, a car went into the back of the Mini and the repairs were paid for by the at-fault driver’s insurance.

Both incidents were listed on the insurers’ database and she was penalised, even though she was not to blame for either and Diamond had not incurred any cost.

This example comes only a few weeks after the Financial Ombudsman reprimanded insurers for using mistakes made by policy holders to get out of paying claims.

They told insurers that alleging fraud is a serious matter and they should not ‘think’ a claim is fraudulent and focus on what hasn’t been disclosed to find a way of rejecting it.

“We take the view that a consumer should be given an opportunity to explain any inconsistencies in their account of what happened,” said the watchdog’s annual report.

“After all, there may well be an innocent explanation. People can make mistakes, and insurers are not always clear in what they’re asking the consumer to tell them.”

The Financial Ombudsman handled 7,190 complaints about car insurance last year. Only Personal Protection Insurance prompted more complaints.

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