Insurance Fraud Costing Every Family $500

We are questioned daily by customers asking why their insurance premiums increased more than the rate of inflation. The answer generally has just 2 parts: First, the insurance company taking the rate increase paid more in claims and expenses than it collected in premium and in order to make the 5% to 7% profit necessary to stay in business they have to raise prices. Second, insurance fraud has increased substantially since the financial crisis of 2008. This second reason for insurance premium hikes is something we all can help get rid of. The statement issued this week by Jeff Atwater, the head of Florida’s Department of Financial Services, describes the problem and what can be done about it: “The FBI estimates that the total annual cost of insurance fraud in our country tops $40 billion, and that doesn’t even include health insurance fraud. When you break that number down, it comes out to roughly $500 per family per year in increased premiums. There are as many types of insurance fraud as there are types of insurance, and crooks seem to always find a way to cheat the system. Our insurance fraud and arson investigators recently ran across an outrageous case that outlines just how bold some of these criminals can be and just how quickly thousands of dollars can be stolen. Late last year, a man from Orange County reported that his car, a 2016 Toyota Camry, had been stolen in the state of New York. A terrible ordeal, but it happens and that’s what insurance is for. Imagine the man’s surprise when just a few months later, his car is found on fire near Orlando. He’d already filed an insurance claim worth $10,000, and when the local fire department asked our arson investigators to look into the cause of the blaze, they quickly became suspicious. As the story unfolded, the man ultimately confessed that he paid someone $300 to destroy his car and to make sure it was never seen again. Why would anyone do that? Maybe he was tired of making his payments or perhaps he wanted a different car to drive. Whatever the reason, the fact remains: By stealing from his insurance company, he’s causing all of our insurance rates to rise.  Now he faces 20 years in jail, but the reality is that this sort of thing happens frequently.  It happens when people intentionally inflict damage to their homes or when they stage automobile accidents. It happens when employers cheat their way out of paying proper premiums for workers’ compensation. It even happens when people fake injuries to get out of going to work. Insurance is a business just like any other, and insurance companies can’t afford to absorb $40 billion in fraud without raising prices. I think we can all agree that no one enjoys paying more for their policies, and we must all do our part to help stop this cost driver.  If you see something that looks suspicious, say something. Our investigators are doing a great job, but they can’t be everywhere all the time. If you think there’s something they should look into, give us a call.”

If you see or know of fraud happening, call the appropriate number on this list if it is occuring in Massachusetts. Each state has their own fraud hotlines, check the website of your states attorney general.

Massachusetts fraud reporting numbers:

  • Identify Theft – call the Attorney General’s Office Consumer Protection Division at 617.727.7780
  • Welfare Fraud – call the Department of Transitional Assistance at 617.727.6950 or 1.800.FRAUD.99
  • Unemployment Fraud – call the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development’s Division of Unemployment Assistance at 1.800.354.9927
  • MassHealth Fraud – call their hotline at 877.437.2830
  • Medicare/Medicaid Fraud – call the Inspector General’s Office at 1.800.HHS.TIPS
  • Workers’ Compensation complaints about companies that do not have workers’ compensation insurance coverage – call the Department of Industrial Accidents at 617.727.4900 or 877.965.2267 (877.96.LABOR)