The Apostle Paul is recorded in the New Testament (I Tim. 6:10), as saying that “the love of money is the root of all evil.” The longer I am involved in the investigation and evaluation of insurance claims, the more I believe that to be true. Money, currency, coin or whatever you want to call it is a lifeless entity. It is what having as much of the stuff as possible that leads otherwise sensible people into a life of crime.
The white collar criminal influence of insurance fraud in this state and nation is out of control. I would guess that part of the reason for this run on crime is the general opinion that people have of insurance related crime. The latest public opinion poll states that 24% of the people questioned believe that insurance fraud is not such a bad thing. This is probably due to the fact that the insurance industry, the federal government, and the state governments which have control of the industry, have done nothing to change the perception of the greedy, money-grubbing insurance executives out to get us all.
This graceful acceptance of insurance fraud as a way of life, has led to the current approximation of $80 billion being the total which we will all stand to lose to insurance fraud in 2013. Let me show you some of the things that we can do with $80 billion in one year:
A) Build 293,000 new homes
B) Build 69 new stealth bombers
C) Pay the salaries of 2.2 million workers in America this year
D) Most enlightening of all, if you placed 80 million one dollar bills end to end, they would stretch to the moon and back 16 times.
The above figures are per the courtesy of The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.
One organization that was created in order to document questionable claims and investigate those thought to be fraudulent, is the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). This organization is privately funded by member insurance companies and strangely enough, not all insurance companies belong to it. This year the NICB has published their Questionable Claims Report. The report indicates that just for the member companies of the (NICB) a 16% increase in questionable claims occurred from Jan 1, 2010 through December 31, 2012.
My home state of California was number one, generating an estimated 58,414 questionable claims during that 3-year period. One of the most interesting types of claims on the dramatic rise is the theft of metal, which takes into account copper, bronze, brass and aluminum. A significant copper theft took place in Seattle, Washington this year causing a situation in which the runway lighting for the Seattle-Tacoma Airport was compromised. One type of metal theft claim that I have adjusted several times is the taking of copper piping and internal motor wiring from roof-mounted air conditioners from buildings that are vacant due to foreclosure or pending sale.
I have come to believe one of the reasons that so many insurance companies are not pro-active against fraud is fear. They do not want to give an insured’s name to the authorities and then find out they were wrong and have that person file a law suit against them. This is a reasonable fear. But if some type of office involving a liaison between the law enforcement agencies and the insurance companies could be developed for review of these questionable claims that every adjuster has on their desk, then a better grasp and more efficient control could be developed of this very lucrative, fraudulent way of life.
If you have knowledge of some type of insurance fraud, I urge you to notify the insurance company involved, or you can anonymously call toll free 1-800-TEL-NICB (1-800-835-6422). As an added incentive, some insurance companies do offer rewards for positive tips.