According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, 85,209 questionable claims were filed with the NICB in 2009 compared to 74,902 received in 2008, a 14 percent increase.
The claims represent cases referred to the NICB by member insurance companies as needing closer investigation and review on suspicion of fraud.
The questionable instances include issues of property, casualty, commercial, and vehicle coverage as well as “miscellaneous” matters.
The president and chief executive officer of the NICB, Joe Wehrle, said, “We’ve seen significant increases in questionable claims related to staged auto accidents where organized criminals are trying to collect for injuries after deliberately causing an auto accident. This increased reporting may be due in part to better awareness of these kinds of scams as we work with insurers and our law enforcement partners to alert them to the problem.”
“Also,” he added, “we have seen more questionable claims in the area of hail damage where unscrupulous roofing companies take advantage of storms to fake or deliberately cause damage to roofs in an effort to get insurers to pay for a replacement roof that wasn’t damaged in the first place.”
“Our member companies are to be commended for doing an excellent job of scrutinizing claims and referring them to NICB in an effort to ensure that their customers are not being cheated by the criminals who try to take advantage of the insurance company’s desire to pay claims as quickly and efficiently as possible,” said Wehrle.
In many parts of the country drivers are now being forced to pay higher rates for their auto coverage as companies try to recoup their losses from fraudulent claims. While largely attributable to the effects of the recession, such claims are a major problem for the industry at this time.