The 2013 Insurance Fraud Hall of Shame is a rogues gallery of murders, criminals and fraudsters that encompass a doctor, elected officials, an international crime ring and garden-variety felons. One even ran an insurance agency.
This year’s criminals are particularly vicious, including one man and his brother who lit the family house on fire, burning three young sons alive; his pregnant wife and a young daughter barely escaped, suffering grievous injuries, including the loss of the baby. Another father killed his only son by crushing him with a truck in a failed attempt to get $700,000 in life insurance money.
These crimes show that insurance fraud is a serious crime that often causes much more damage than just raising everyone’s costs: it threatens public safety. The good news is that the American public is wising up about insurance fraud. For years, there was a disturbing tendency to have tolerance for so-called “soft” fraud like padding claims. Many viewed insurance fraud as a victimless crime. although nothing could be further from the truth. . But research into public opinions by the Insurance Research Council last spring showed that public tolerance for insurance fraud is trending down.
“Twenty-four percent of IRC survey respondents believe it is okay to increase an insurance claim by a small amount to make up for deductibles they are required to pay, compared to 33 percent in a 2002 telephone survey. Additionally, 18 percent believe it is acceptable to increase a claim to make up for premiums paid in previous years when they had no claims, the lowest percentage since the question was first asked in a 1981 in-home survey.”
If you know of insurance fraud, you can help by reporting it. Call the toll-free hotline of the National Insurance Crime Bureau 1-800-835-6422 or check to see if there is a state fraud bureau in your state insurance department.