Insurance Insight

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 8, 2000

Mike Williams / L’Observateur / November 8, 2000

Someone is taking money from you.

Criminals who commit insurance fraud cost each American household about $200 more in insurance premiums each year.

Each year, Americans pay more that $120 billion in higher premiums as a result of insurance fraud.

Fraud takes many different forms; padding insurance claims, using a relative’s address to save money on your insurance bill, or faking injury.

Staged accidents are often a form of organized efforts to rip off insurance dollars.

In general, staged accidents involve a plant to create crashes with unsuspecting driver and fake or inflate injuries to collect insurance payments. Dishonest lawyers and doctors are usually involved in theseschemes.

Drivers of luxury cars are often targets because they may carry extensive insurance coverage. Also targeted are motorists without passengers whocould serve as witnesses.

Consider the following from the National Insurance Crime Bureau: Watch other cars, as well as the one directly in front of you. Brake whentraffic slows, don’t wait to see the taillights of the car in front of you.

Allow braking distance between you and the car in front of you-one car length for every 10 mph as a rule of thumb. If traveling 50 mph, allow 5 carlengths to make a safe stop.

Exercise care when turning into a lane that allows two vehicles to turn simultaneously. Staged-accident perpetrators purposely side-swipe othervehicles at the center line.

Count the number of passengers in the other car. Get the names,telephone numbers and driver’s license numbers.

Carry a disposable camera in your glove compartment. Take pictures ofthe other car and passengers.

If you suspect a scam, contact local authorities and call the NICB hotline at 1-800-TEL-NICB. For more information about automobile insurance fraud,contact your insurer.

It is not the insurance companies that pay the price for fraud. Ultimately, itis the insurance customer that pays the price.

MIKE WILLIAMS, a local agent with State Farm Insurance, writes this column every Wednesday for L’Observateur.

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