Robert Winnett writes for The Sunday Times of London on the plans of British insurance companies to use voice stress analysis to evaluate the veracity of claims. Excerpt:
THE voices of claimants who telephone their insurers after an accident or theft will go through a lie detector under radical plans drawn up by some of the biggest insurance companies, writes Robert Winnett.
This year Highway Insurance, Britain’s eighth biggest motor insurer, will become the first to install technology that monitors stress in claimants’ voices. Two other insurers have also bought the system to stop false or exaggerated claims.
The industry believes the system will help to slash soaring fraud rates, which, it says, have quadrupled to £2.25 billion a year since 1998. Critics say the system is unreliable and could be used to delay and reject thousands of legitimate claims.
The system measures pitch and tone in voices. If the machine thinks a caller is lying, a red light flashes on the insurer’s desk and the claimant will be subjected to a thorough grilling by investigators.
It is ironic that British insurance companies, in an alleged attempt to curb insurance fraud, should be prepared to commit a fraud against their customers. Voice stress analysis, like polygraphy, is sheer pseudoscience.