Public awareness and education key to reducing auto insurance fraud: Manitoba Public Insurance

Public insurer launches unique fraud quiz on World Wide Web

With the goal of educating Manitobans about insurance fraud and what constitutes an unethical decision, Manitoba Public Insurance is launching a new �Fraud Awareness� quiz.

The 10-question quiz, which was launched on the World Wide Web today, can be found on www.mpi.mb.ca. The questions range from what a person should do when they become involved in a minor collision, to what they should do when they know someone who is deliberately committing insurance fraud.

�The quiz is simple, straight forward and educational,� said Randy Bell, Manager of the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) of Manitoba Public Insurance. �The quiz contains language which is easy to understand, but the message remains consistent: fraud is a crime.�

Arson is one fraudulent activity which investigators with Manitoba Public Insurance�s anti-fraud SIU are familiar with. Last year there were about 1,400 fire claims opened with the public insurer. A total of 355 claims were investigated by the Special Investigation Unit.

�As the result of these arson investigations the public insurer was able to save, or recover $244,000 from fraudulent claims,� said Bell.

In total, Manitoba motorists saved about $5 million in 2002/03 thanks to the SIU. The figure is based on an estimate of money recovered and fraudulent claims denied.

Last year SIU�s 17 specially trained investigators opened 3,500 files, resulting in 93 charges laid against 61 people. Manitoba�s justice system continues to take a tough stand against fraud, evidenced in $46,000 in fines ordered by the courts between March 1, 2002 to February 28, 2003. Manitoba Public Insurance�s seconded Crown Attorney also secured $127,416 in restitution orders from Manitoba courts.

A recent national poll reported that nearly one in four Canadians knows someone who has committed personal injury insurance fraud. Released by the Canadian Coalition Against Insurance Fraud (CCAIF), the poll also stated that at least 26% of all personal injury claims contain elements of fraud. The poll suggests 46% of Canadians believe it is easy to submit a fraudulent claim.

The CCAIF commissioned the poll to ask Canadians about their knowledge of personal injury insurance fraud. The poll was conducted with 3,358 Canadians over the age of 18 by the research firm, Poll results are accurate to within +/-1.7%, 19 times out of 20.

�Fraud is not a victimless crime,� said Bell. �While the majority of Manitobans are honest people, unfortunately, they have to pay for the few who commit fraud. The quiz provides an opportunity for all Manitobans to educate themselves about fraud.�

Manitoba Public Insurance�s TIPS Line (985-8477), which was introduced in 1998, has proven to be a success with Manitobans calling in about 60 tips a month. These calls resulted in 196 investigations last year, saving premium payers about $364,631