The Law Office of Bradley R. Corbett is experienced in handling auto insurance fraud cases. As one of the premier San Diego auto insurance fraud lawyers we know the ins and outs of insurance law. Have you been a victim of auto insurance fraud or are being accused of insurance fraud? We are here to help. What should you know about auto insurance fraud? Don’t be blindsided or caught off guard.
What is auto insurance fraud?
Auto Insurance fraud is when an individual or group of individuals use an automobile to 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. Auto 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).
Common Forms of Auto Insurance Fraud
A common form of insurance fraud is to report a stolen vehicle that was not actually stolen. Perpetrators get away with this by selling their vehicle to an overseas buyer in secret (without any official records) and then reporting the vehicle as stolen. Another common route is to sell the car to an auto shop for parts — again, without leaving a paper trail — and then claiming that it was stolen. In these examples, both the buyer and the seller are guilty of insurance fraud.
Perhaps the most common form of auto insurance fraud is to report damage to a vehicle, collect the insurance check, and then use the money for anything but repairing the damage. What makes this particular form of insurance fraud so common is that it’s easier to get away with than others, but it is not a victimless crime. The more money an insurance company shells out for this type of scheme, the higher their rates and deductibles go up for the rest of the honest paying individuals.
Insurance Fraud Consequences
Insurance fraud is a crime that most states in America take quite seriously. The consequences that may follow an alleged act of insurance fraud vary anywhere from a hefty fine to decades in prison. These charges depend on the magnitude of the claim and the predefined laws of the state where the offense occurred.
The smallest form of insurance fraud is a Class C misdemeanor. This offense includes a small claim of around $50, but can result in a fine of more than ten times the amount of the false claim. So, while someone might try to get away with a small $50 insurance fraud claim, they could end up paying $500 or more to resolve the infraction.
Greater forms of insurance fraud result in consequences that are far more severe, and should never be handled without an experienced insurance fraud attorney. The higher the claim, the higher the charges. Grandiose insurance fraud schemes that involve hundreds of thousands of dollars and several parties are considered a first-degree felony, and are punishable by up to $10,000 in charges and a lifetime in prison.
Insurance Fraud Defenses
If you or someone you know has been convicted of insurance fraud, the first and most important plan of action is to enlist the services of a professional insurance fraud attorney. Whether you’re a victim of fraud or an unwitting participant, there are several ways in which an attorney can improve your situation and lighten the blow in the courtroom.
Possible defenses for insurance fraud include a lack of intent or a legitimate loss. A lack of intent would mean that the accused did not mean to deceive the insurance company and made an honest mistake of fact. Claiming legitimate loss would be the best option in events where there was, in fact, a legitimate loss that the insurance company should have taken care of, or if a portion of the claim was a legitimate loss.
So, what is insurance fraud? It is a crime in which a perpetrator makes a false insurance claim for their own benefit, and it is not taken lightly in the courtroom.
If you’re in need of an insurance fraud attorney, contact the law office of Bradley Corbett today.