If you had to name the biggest white collar crime in America, what would you say? Embezzlement? Insider trading? Forgery?
They're all good guesses, but no.
Insurance fraud – phony and inflated claims or fudged facts on applications – tops them all. Only tax evasion costs the public more.
The FBI reports that insurance fraud adds an extra $400 to $700 to the average family's insurance bill each year. And it's not accident-staging organized crime rings mostly responsible for that total. It's ordinary people who file most of the 1 in 10 insurance claims estimated to be tainted by fraud.
PEMCO aggressively pursues insurance cheats looking to line their pockets at your expense. Since insurance fraud often isn't a one-time crime, we work closely with the National Association of Insurance Companies and state regulatory agencies to flag fraudsters for potential prosecution. While not all face legal consequences, many find themselves with denied claims, canceled policies or both.
Applications and claims are the two hot spots for insurance fraud
With application fraud, people fib trying to get a cheaper rate – saying they drive fewer miles than they actually do, claiming discounts they haven't earned, listing a parent as the primary driver of a teen's car and leaving off tickets and accidents in hopes they won't be discovered. Sometimes, the inaccuracies are honest mistakes, and the premium can simply be adjusted. That's important, because when a few people don't pay rates that match their risk, it drives up costs for everyone else.
With claims fraud, someone might pad a list of items destroyed in a fire or stolen after a break-in. Or, they might say someone ran into their car in a parking lot when they really just sideswiped a pole. Dozens of red flags can indicate something's not quite right with a claim, and technology is making it easier for companies to spot potential fraud.
How can I fight fraud?
If you suspect someone is committing insurance fraud, you can report your concerns to a state agency. In Washington, it's the Office of the Insurance Commissioner, which has a fraud form on its website, or you can call (360) 586-2566. In Oregon, report suspected fraud to the Consumer Advocacy Unit of the Oregon Insurance Commissioner's Office at 1-888-877-4894.