Insurance fraud costs B.C. drivers hundreds of millions of dollars each year
Vancouver, BC (Jan. 21, 2016) – A man who torches his vehicle then claims it was stolen, a woman embellishing the extent of her injuries to collect two paycheques, and a man crying wolf to get out of doing the dishes — these are just some of the highlights found in ICBC’s fraud files in 2015.
While the vast majority of ICBC’s customers are honest, there are some drivers that choose to exaggerate or make false claims. ICBC is launching an anti-fraud campaign to raise awareness about fraudulent insurance claims and its financial impact to all B.C. drivers.
Insurance fraud is not a victimless crime; it costs every B.C. driver more than $100 per year on their insurance policy. Insurance industry estimates indicate 10 to 20 per cent of auto insurance claims contain an element of fraud or exaggeration. That means, dishonest claims total up to as much as $600 million each year in B.C. And ICBC is committed to catching fraudsters in the act as one of the ways to help reduce the pressures on rates.
The most common types of insurance fraud include false claims, exaggerated claims and organized fraud. An example of a false claim is when an owner fabricates a story about their vehicle being stolen when it was actually disposed of by the owner. Exaggerated claims are when a driver or passenger embellishes a claim by overstating their injuries or the damage to their vehicle. And organized fraud are planned events such as staged collisions and jump-in schemes.
Here are some cases of people that weren’t so truthful in 2015:
- Dirty Dishes – From headaches to back pain, a man complained to ICBC that his injuries are so severe after his MVA that he couldn’t even help his wife with simple household chores, like washing the dishes. Shortly after his crash, our investigators collected footage of him lifting box after box of heavy floor tiles at his work site. For his attempt to falsify his injuries, he was convicted of fraud, fined $1500, and is likely back on dish duty.
- Double Dipping – A Vancouver woman involved in a collision claimed she was unable to return to work because of her injuries. After receiving an anonymous tip, our investigators obtained evidence confirming that she had been working since the crash – effectively collecting two paycheques at once – one from her employer, and another from ICBC. For exaggerating the extent of her injuries, she was convicted and served with a one-year driving suspension as well as a $1750 fine.
- Mom Caught in Cover-Up – A Vancouver Island mom reported that her Audi was stolen from her office’s parking lot. She said that her sons were the only other people that had access to her vehicle, and confirmed both were at home. Later that day, police found her car in the Lower Mainland, abandoned and crashed into a chain link fence. More evidence was exposed, poking holes in her statement. Witnesses saw a man flee the scene. Telephone records pegged one of her sons at the scene of the crash. Cameras at a B.C. Ferry terminal also caught the same son purchasing a ticket. Both were convicted of providing false statements. The mother was fined $2300, and the son received an $1150 fine and a one-year driving suspension. It turned out that his license was suspended at the time of the crash, so he was sentenced to 90 days in jail as well.
- Dash Cam Disclosure – A Lower Mainland man claimed that when he was driving, another car veered into his lane and sideswiped his vehicle. Although the crash was certainly upsetting, the driver was happy that his newly installed dash cam captured the entire incident. He excitedly shared the footage with ICBC to support his claim. However, the video also revealed he was riding shotgun and that his car was actually driven by someone else – an unlicensed driver – at the time of the crash. For providing a false statement about who was driving, his claim was denied.
- Electronic Exposure – With all the technological advances in today’s vehicles, it can be hard to keep up with all the new bells and whistles that come with a new car. Not knowing foiled this man’s scheme to cash in on a scam. A Fraser Valley man woke up at 2 a.m. to find his BMW missing from his driveway. He immediately called the police to report the theft, who found the car later that night, burnt to a crisp at a nearby park. The man claimed that he was in bed by 11:30 p.m. and that none of his keys were stolen. This particular vehicle employs technology that records each time a key fob is used. Investigators found that an original key fob was used at 12:18 a.m. on the night of incident. The man was busted by his own car, and for that, his claim was denied.
- Bus Blues – A bus struck a parked fire truck as it was making a turn around a transit exchange. After ensuring all the passengers safely left the bus, the bus driver walked over to the fire truck to exchange information with the driver. The bus driver returned to find a man waiting for him, claiming that he was on the bus and had been injured as a result of the collision. The man filed a claim to ICBC for compensation. However, security cameras at the bus terminal showed that the man was never on or near the bus at the time of the collision. The man was busted for fraud, ordered to pay a fine and spend a night in jail.
ICBC has stepped up its efforts in combatting fraud in order to keep costs down. In addition to enhancing its Special Investigations Unit to include cyber probes and training frontline staff to detect fraud, in 2016, ICBC is exploring adding enhanced fraud software to its arsenal, a tool that will help to quickly flag patterns and high predictors of fraud at the beginning of the claims process.
In 2015, ICBC opened approximately 7500 fraud investigations, which includes almost 5000 claims investigations. The work of its Special Investigations Unit led to a 98% conviction rate on all charges laid, resulting in approximately 550 fraud convictions from 2010 to 2015. These convictions can limit a person’s career options, prevent one from crossing the border and applying for credit. Thousands of fraudsters faced other penalties, including a complete denial of their claim, asset seizure, denial of optional insurance coverage, and other civil remedies.
Insurance fraud increases claims costs, which leads to higher premiums for every British Columbian needing auto insurance.
The public can protect their wallets by reporting suspicious activities related to insurance fraud to ICBC’s toll-free tips line at 1-800-661-6844. Tip information is confidential and callers can remain anonymous. For more information, visit icbc.com/fraud.
About the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia
The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia is a provincial Crown corporation established in 1973 to provide universal auto insurance to B.C. motorists. We’re also responsible for driver licensing, and vehicle licensing and registration.
SOURCE: Insurance Corporation of British Columbia