Insurance Fraud Costing Us All

By: Damon Dillman
By: Damon Dillman

Adding a little more onto an insurance claim, or including something that wasn't damaged? That's insurance fraud.

Virginia State Police say it's a growing problem - one that's hitting you right in the wallet.

"Insurance fraud is the second most costly white collar crime in the U.S., behind tax evasion," said Pamela Jewell, of the Virginia State Police's Insurance Fraud Division," and it costs the average Virginia household approximately $1,000 a year."

Jewell says one in six Virginians knows someone who has committed insurance fraud. Examples include faking an accident, staging a burglary, or filing a false theft or worker's compensation report.

"Just the attempt to cover your deductible, for instance. That's insurance fraud," said Thom Jennings, certified insurance counselor of ProSure Insurance, Staunton. "Not telling the insurance agent about everybody who lives in a household who's a driver on a application. That's a misrepresentation."

Jennings says insurance fraud isn't a crime everyone does, but it is a crime everyone pays for. According to the state police, insurance fraud can also cost residents $200 to $1,000 in additional premiums.

And Jennings, who has worked in the insurance business for 30 years, says many people don't think they're doing anything illegal.

"It's basically a white collar-type crime, which sits on the edge of what people consider right and wrong," he said. "It's close to, for some people, a gray area.

"Increasing a claim, padding a claim, covering your deductible, adding a few things that may not have been damaged. I think few people see that as fraud," Jennings added. "They may see that as perhaps not correct, and wrong, but not fraud."

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