Insurance Fraud: A Growing Problem
Insurance fraud is a problem that takes many forms, and can ultimately cost a company five percent of its annual revenues, according to a recent survey conducted by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.
Fraudulent acts may happen with medical billing or with reported lost or stolen cars that are reduced to scrap metal by unscrupulous body shops in exchange for a piece of the insurance settlement.
They may also include individuals reporting auto body damage, collecting checks, and then not having the repairs done.
Storm fraud, arson, unnecessary medical procedures — insurance companies from all sectors of the industry must be vigilant in protecting their customers and their bottom lines. As Coalition Against Fraud Executive Director, Dennis Jay, states, “Insurance fraud is a hydra-headed crime that steals billions of dollars a year, ruins lives, taxes America’s economic vitality and even kills innocent people.”
Allstate, a long-established weapon in the fight against insurance fraud, recently set its sights on educating consumers about the growing problem.
“Allstate has taken an especially strong stance in fighting this crime,” Jay said. “Highly focused partnerships among insurers, regulators and other fraud fighters is essential to turning the corner on this stubborn crime.”
And Jay is right to call it “stubborn.” Each year, companies like Allstate do what they can to go after criminals looking to score at the expense of honest consumers. The illegal activity worms its way in to customer premiums and payouts.
Allstate’s most recent efforts have included filing more than 120 suits against shady doctors, medical clinics, and lawyers over the last five years. The company has sought over $225 million on behalf of those affected with almost one-third of those suits happening within the state of New York.
Due to the sheer diversity of ways that criminals can target consumers and companies, Allstate sought to improve customer education during last week’s International Fraud Awareness Week. The company shared the following tips for how consumers can better help stamp out the issue. These included the following:
- Do not reply to suspicious emails and do not provide callers with sensitive or personal information.
- Call the referenced company using a phone number from a trusted source such as business literature you received in the past or their official website. Do not call the number referenced in the suspicious communication.
- Check the validity of a link within an email by rolling your curser over it and previewing the URL within your browser. If it does not match that of the business they claim to represent, do not trust it.
- When conducting business on the web, use only secure websites. The address of a secure website will begin with “https” and, in most cases, your browser will indicate it is secure by showing a padlock in the lower right corner.
“From federal authorities to state consumer-affairs departments to public and private insurers, perpetrators know the pressure is getting turned up and we will continue to fight fraud wherever it lives to better protect our customers,” said Allstate’s Special Investigations Unit Manager Rebecca Abel.
Many times customers see insurance fraud as a problem with which only companies need worry. Since it’s a problem that is so widespread and often doesn’t have a “face” to it — or a way in which consumers can understand how it affects them — they think that it doesn’t apply to them. Allstate’s latest initiative, however, says otherwise. And there’s a lesson in that for all insurance agents and companies. The more that you can help your customer see beyond their policy to the way outside mechanisms affect their premiums and services, the more allies you can create in the war against insurance fraud.
If you’re an agent, what ways can you involve your customers in the fight?