A report by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), a not-for-profit company working on behalf of insurance companies to stop insurance fraud and car theft, indicates that Florida leads the nation in staged accidents and other questionable insurance claims. The company found a 58 percent increase in potentially staged car accidents in Florida between 2008 and 2009 and a 15 percent increase in questionable claims against all types of insurance.
No-fault insurance laws are a key contributor to insurance fraud, according to the NICB. Among the 12 states that have no-fault car insurance laws, Florida had the highest rate of alleged fraud involving false or padded claims for medical treatment in accidents with injuries. (Georgia does not have no-fault car insurance.)
Florida is one of the states that has suffered the most from unemployment and the foreclosure crisis. Although the economic recession might be one reason people commit insurance fraud, the NICB has little sympathy.
“The criminals who are staging and deliberately causing these accidents have been doing so because they can file claims for alleged injuries and collect big payments with little risk of getting caught,” asserts Joe Wehrle, president and CEO of the NICB.
The company also noted a new geographic trend within Florida, with a greater number of suspected staged accidents being reported in Central Florida. Previously, South Florida — Miami and Hialeah especially — had the largest number of questionable auto insurance claims. In its latest survey, Tampa led the state in potentially fraudulent car insurance claims, and Orlando ranked third.
Insurance fraud can be prosecuted as either a state or federal crime, but it can be hard to prove. The Florida Division of Insurance Fraud opened 1,388 investigations into potentially staged accidents between 2009 and 2010, but only 34 of those cases were closed.
- WESH-TV Orlando, “Staged Crash Claims Soar In Fla.,” February 8, 2011
- National Insurance Crime Bureau news release, “Suspicious Staged Accident Claims Soar in Florida,” June 28, 2010