The Law Office of Bradley R. Corbett is experienced in handling insurance fraud cases. As one of the premier San Diego insurance fraud lawyers we know the ins and outs of insurance law. Have you been a victim of insurance fraud or are being accused of insurance fraud? We are here to help. What should you know about insurance fraud? Don’t be blindsided or caught off guard.
What is insurance fraud?
Insurance fraud is when an individual or group of individuals commit an act with the intent to obtain benefits or payments to which they aren’t entitled to or deny benefits to those that are rightfully entitled to them. Insurance fraud can include filing a false claim for an accident that never occurred, staging an accident to file a claim, claiming unnecessary medical expenses, or promising individuals insurance coverage but never providing that coverage – just to name a few.
California Penal Code 550 classifies it as illegal to “aid, abet, solicit, or conspire” to submit “any false or fraudulent claim for the payment of a loss of injury.” Also, it is illegal to submit multiple claims, present false or fraudulent claims for loss of property, or make a claim or multiple claims for a health benefit that you didn’t receive. Failure to abide by Penal Code 550 can result in jail time, a $50,000 fine or double the amount of the fraud (whichever is greater), or a combination of both. The fraudulent act doesn’t have to be completed to be charged. When the act and the intent to commit fraud are both present you can be charged with insurance fraud (2).
Why should you be concerned about insurance fraud?
You’ve heard of people committing insurance fraud before, but why should you care? You pay your premiums every month and your covered. The cost of insurance fraud (non-health insurance) is estimated to be around $40 billion each year (1). That means it costs the average family $400 – $700 each year in increase premiums. So whether or not you commit insurance fraud, when a scammer does, it affects you.
ABC News recently did an investigative report on the insurance fraud and how expensive it can be to the average consumer.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) released its 2012 questionable claims referral reason analysis and reported some startling facts. The amount of questionable claims rose dramatically from 2010 to 2012 with a 26.7% increase. The total number of questionable claims were 116,268 and California was the highest state with 21,935 questionable claims. Penal Code 550(b)(2) specifically warns about submitting a false statement claim and the punishments tied to that.
Insurance fraud doesn’t just include auto accidents though. It can include:
- Life insurance
- Health care insurance
- Property insurance
- Premium theft
- Worker’s compensation
- Personal injury
Along with auto accidents, there has been an increase in “slip and fall” insurance scams. These staged personal injury accidents are a way to try to extort money from businesses. The NICB and ABC News detailed the rising number of these scams and the impact they have on you.
What happens if you’ve been accused of insurance fraud?
If you’re being investigated for insurance fraud the insurance company will compile all of the information that they need before they charge you. They’ll look at when the policy was put into effect, when the accident happened, when claims were filed, those involved, and third party members (doctors, tow truck agencies, police reports). The length of the investigation into your claim can vary depending on how suspicious it is.
Insurance fraud is most often charged as a felony, although in limited cases it can be a misdemeanor. A felony conviction can have serious ramifications on your life. A few consequences include:
- Inability to own a firearm
- Loss of voting rights
- Inability to serve on a jury
- Barred from getting a pilot’s license
- Barred from getting a private radio license
- Ineligible to enlist in the Armed Forces
- Holding a federal office
- Receiving government benefits
- And travel restrictions
If you’ve been accused of insurance fraud we can help. Our team of experienced lawyers will vigorously defend you. We understand that sometimes innocent people are accused of insurance fraud. Going up against a giant corporation can be a daunting task that you shouldn’t have to do by yourself. It’s important to have an experienced insurance fraud defense lawyer on your side. Contact our expert criminal defense lawyers and set up your free case consultation to determine your best course of action.