Fraud tech

How technology has helped to re-boot Woodgate & Clark’s fraud proposition

Posted on 20 April 2022

Woodgate & Clark‘s Head of Counter Fraud, Marie Quinn, talks about the technology transformation she has overseen in the business, which she argues has moved the needle on Woodgate & Clark’s approach to counter fraud with stunning results. 

How was the anti-fraud technology set-up when you joined the team at Woodgate & Clark in December 2020?

It’s fair to say that the business had a ‘minimal technology’ approach in the fraud unit. We did have some automated functionality based around some good “claims indicators” but they delivered a lot of false positives. The data capture wasn’t right either so we were not able to capitalise on the huge opportunities provided by data analysis and the real-time insight it can provide in helping to spot organised fraud or new fraud trends 

We knew that some effective changes in our approach to fraud could be transformational for our business and complement the traditional values and technical capability of the claims teams. We wanted to make our counter fraud strategy another reason for clients to choose to work with Woodgate & Clark, and it was clear that technology would be  a key element in the process. The executive team were incredibly supportive, open to ideas and totally behind driving positive changes that moved the fraud response from being passive to forward thinking.

Can you describe how the fraud investigation platform came together?

The new investigation platform was designed and built by our own in-house IT team, which I’m hugely proud of. As a niche business with very specific needs, it was really beneficial to have the existing business knowledge so we could tailor the development. It also meant that the process was agile in that we could make immediate changes, test and learn and importantly continue development, evolving the solution. A process which continues.

We did review other fraud systems in the market but concluded that for the size of our business and the specific insurance area that we operate in, which is a challenge for general technological solutions, it was better to design and build our own platform. We are very fortunate in having a very capable inhouse IT specialist, Nigel Whitehead, who was responsible for the development, build and implementation. He really thought about the brief, what we were trying to achieve, how we could build for the future and continuously evolve. He considered all the angles from data capture to end user functionality.  He was amazing, nothing was too much trouble. He was also forward thinking and ensured that the new platform can “bolt-on” to any claims platform and work in a complementary way to other apps or web-based systems which we could incorporate into our solution. This future proofs our solution. A critical part of the technology objective was the data and the  insight it could provide to enable us to help clients to better understand fraud performance across their portfolio and importantly identify new trends that they may not be aware of so mitigating actions could be implemented.  This has been really exciting, and with the arrival of Gordon Young, Head of Business Analytics, we can evolve our reporting and fraud insight to a whole new interactive level for our clients.  

The data has been really critical on so many levels, it has enabled us to tailor automated system referrals and we are now able  to be more effective in identifying suspect cases for investigation and streamline the customer journey for all our genuine claimants. 

Fundamentally it has turned our fraud approach from a passive, fairly manual process to a pro-active, data driven solution - the power of which we are now really getting to grips with.

What else can the new functionality deliver?    

We’ve developed a system-triggered fraud identification function that enables early intervention and ongoing screening throughout the claims lifecycle. The system will send fraud tasks to the investigations work queues when it identifies connections between new claims data and previous fraud related cases. It responds to certain claims criteria which are high fraud risk, we can ring-fence cases if we spot an emerging trend, as we did with cannabis farms in the pandemic lock-down periods. Once ring-fenced we can exploit the benefits of data analysis and search for key attractors or vice versa, the system can look for key attractor data and flag this. The claims and fraud data can be used to proactively look for patterns and anomalies, which our Head of Business Analytics is now doing. The versatility of the platform can accommodate other tactical solutions and we are now looking at what external apps and kit we can take advantage of that will evolve our responses even further. 

Being more effective with the data and fraud interventions has enabled us to be more effective with our investigative resources and we and not wasting time on the wrong cases, which can be harmful to our clients.  It also means that we can be more effective in responding to new trends. For example, a slight increase in major fire claims at business premises enabled us to implement swift measure to intervene early in the claims process to help provide the best fraud advice at the right time and where necessary drive the cases into the fraud arena. Previously whilst we would have spotted the trend emerging, it may have taken more time, been a manual process and we would have been behind the curve, reacting to issues after they peak rather than before.   

Having the data has also helped us improve our partnerships with clients, as we are now able to update them on a continuous basis, advising them of fraud risks and new trends across their portfolio. This of course, enables them to look across their entire book and alert other suppliers too. Equally we could look across our claims data and search for new trends our clients had seen across their wider claims experience. It was a win-win for all parties.  

How important has the technology element been in creating such a successful counter fraud operation for Woodgate & Clark?

Taking the best of traditional fraud identification and detection methods, blending with thoughtfully created tailored technology is essential for achieving an effective counter fraud solution within the commercial insurance arena. Valuing the old but taking full advantage of the new is definitely the best way forward. Technology has a critical place in counter fraud strategy, but it has to be thoughtfully developed and deployed to be successful in niche areas like ours. A blanket approach just wouldn’t work for our clients, it could negatively impact the customer journey and cause issues for our clients for little fraud benefit. I am so proud of what we have developed and importantly what it has now started to achieve for the business and our clients, some of which have enjoyed an uplift in excess of 700% in fraud related savings in the last 12 months alone. 

Reflecting back over the last 12 months, we set ourselves some stretching goals. We have been incredibly resourceful with our own in-house expertise and ultimately created something that we are really proud of. We’re not standing still either. We are committed to continuous improvement and focused on further technological development to ensure that we are able to keep pace with the fraudsters. This is so important now more than ever, as the pressures impacting the economy and businesses relating to the pandemic, Brexit and the Ukraine, will result in more claims and underwriting fraud being committed. It’s imperative that we can play our part in helping protect our clients' businesses and importantly, their customers from the harmful impact of fraud. We are now in the best shape to tackle it – so be warned fraudsters, we’re coming for you! 

For more information, please contact Marie Quinn -