In Patel v Windsor Life Assurance Company Ltd  EWHC 76, the claimant beneficiary sought to enforce his interest in a life insurance policy against the defendant insurer following the alleged death of the insured. The insurer refused to pay out under the policy, alleging that, firstly, the beneficiary and the insured, if the latter ever actually existed, were involved in a scheme to defraud the insurer and, secondly, on the balance of probabilities, the insured had not actually died, as asserted by the Claimant. The Court noted that serious allegations regarding an insured's fraud require cogent evidence to prove the allegations and that the burden of proving the fraud lay with the insurer.
The Court heard how the insured had disclosed inconsistent material facts to at least five different insurance companies with regard to the insured's employment prospects and financial status and that the beneficiary appeared to have completed significant parts of the requisite documentation himself. The beneficiary was unable to explain these discrepancies, including an increase in the insured's earnings from £15,000 to £5million, and the Court held that the beneficiary's evidence would not be accepted unless corroborated by cogent independent evidence. The Court, having considered the applications made to insurers and the lack of independent evidence supporting the Claimant's evidence, concluded that the beneficiary and the insured were engaged in a fraudulent scheme to obtain life cover. The insured had failed to disclose this 'material fact' and, consequently, the insurer was entitled to deny cover. In any event, the Court held that the beneficiary had failed to prove that the insured had actually died, finding that the death certificate had been falsified.