If you have looked at your auto insurance premium lately, you know that what you’re paying is probably not based on how well you drive. And you’re right. Fraud, including Personal Injury Protection (PIP) fraud, costs Florida drivers millions of dollars each year.
The money stolen through staged accidents and falsified medical claims adds about $50 per driver per year, according to estimates. Other forms of fraud, such as burning a vehicle for the insurance money, raise the bill.
A Florida insurance company and the Miami-Dade Fire Department are working together to educate investigators on how to detect when a car is set ablaze so that it can be reported as a total loss.
“The fraud in Florida is very high,” Carlos Torres of Infinity Auto Insurance told News 10 in Miami. “Usually people have a financial motive or don’t like their car anymore, so they’ll set them on fire to make them a total loss.” The video shows how criminals operate.
Another agency fighting insurance crime has teamed up with investigators nationwide. ICS Merrill in Jacksonville sends its 600 employees after all types of fraud, including PIP.
The Coalition against Insurance Fraud, based in Washington, supports that effort.
“Staged accidents have been a problem around Florida, especially in urban areas like Jacksonville,” James Quiggle, association communications director, told TV station WJXT in Jacksonville. “Sometimes you can arrest the lower level recruiters or fake patients and convince them that they need to rat out the ring members or leaders.
“There’s good research to suggest that families pay fraud tax of almost $100 a year in higher auto insurance premiums, so the cost to Florida consumers is very real.”