A Kiwi traveller who used a forged letter to try claim $36,000 worth of designer shoes, bags, jewellery and electronics was one of 1500 people who Southern Cross investigates every year for making a fake insurance claim.

Another family claimed two iPads, camera equipment, clothing and luggage worth $13,000 was stolen by a taxi driver and used a false letter from a hotel manager and police report to support their claim.

One customer claimed to lose $6000 of jewellery from their handbag that was later found inside it when a Southern Cross investigator followed up on the claim.

Southern Cross Travel Insurance said it is using the services of specialist fraud investigators to probe some cases and say customers can be blacklisted by insurers, taken to court and get a criminal record if found to have make a fake claim.


"Travel insurance is for when something unexpectedly goes wrong and a traveller needs legitimate help," says Southern Cross Travel Insurance boss Craig Morrison.

"The majority of our customers make genuine claims and have nothing to fear - the only ones who have to be concerned are those who fabricate their claims."

"We receive up to 1,300 claims a week and see all kinds of attempts to manipulate the system. Everything from implausible accounts of theft and unlikely items added to a genuine claim, to completely fabricated claims, including false testimony and fabricated documents," he said.

The Insurance Council estimates the industry is hit with up to $150 million of fraud every year, Southern Cross said.

"I find it amazing that people think they're going to outsmart someone who investigates shady claims as a full-time job. It's relatively easy to unpick the lies some people tell - even if the documentation is purportedly from another country," Morrison said.