INSURANCE CROOKS COME IN MANY FORMS: LAW ABIDING CITIZEN,
COMMON CRIMINAL, MURDERER
NEW YORK, March 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Picture this: You are driving down the road. All of a sudden, a car pulls out of nowhere. You slam on the brakes, but it is too late. After the collision, you jump out of your car to see if anyone is hurt. The three men in the other car are not injured, but you still feel bad about not preventing the accident. Well, don't. You never had a chance of missing that car. It was a staged auto accident -- America's most common type of insurance crime.
The scenario continues. Those same three men, who appeared to be unharmed, visit doctors and chiropractors. These "white collar" professionals -- who are in on the scam -- diagnose a fraudulent condition and send inflated medical bills to the insurance company. Once the claim is paid, the parties involved divide up the money among themselves. This is known as a "medical special" -- America's second most common type of insurance crime.
While insurance fraud is nothing new, experts on the upcoming cable television program The Premium Dollar Today explain that a combination of economic factors make it a "growth industry" in the United States. The recession, weakening regional economies and rising unemployment are giving cash-hungry Americans more reasons to practice insurance fraud.
And why not? What better way for a car owner to get out of a four- year loan. Or for a burglary victim to get more money than the worth of what was stolen. Of for an employee to ride out the recession by collecting workers' compensation rather than unemployment. Right?
Wrong. The insurance industry has declared an all out war on insurance crime. In addition to forming the National Insurance Crime Bureau, government is increasing funding and resources to combat this growing problem. Among others dedicated to the cause: Law enforcement agencies, private investigators, undercover agents, photo surveillance units, police officers, special investigative units, U.S. customs officers, FBI agents, postal workers, insurance industry investigators and auto makers.
In fact, some of the biggest insurance crime busters in the country will appear tomorrow on The Premium Dollar Today. Panelist Arnold Schlossberg, Jr., president and CEO of the National Insurance Crime Bureau, says: "We are all working with a vengeance toward two common goals: to catch insurance fraudsters and impose stiffer penalties on all forms of insurance frauds - and all forms of fraud-minded Americans."
Insurance "fraudsters" include average, everyday Americans. According to the panelists, an alarming number of law-abiding citizens think it is okay to "pad" claims, lie about one's address on an auto application to get a lower rate, or exaggerate an injury.
"There is a misconception that insurance fraud is perpetrated only by professional criminals," explains Herbert E. Goodfriend, Director of Insurance Analysis for KPMG Peat Marwick and moderator of The Premium Dollar Today. "In fact, it is often committed by everyday Americans who believe it's alright to increase an insurance claim by a small amount to recoup the premiums they paid when they didn't file a claim."
Regardless of who commits insurance fraud, it is costing the industry - and ultimately the public - around $50 billion each year. "That's bigger than the gross national product of some countries," stresses Goodfriend. To emphasize the point, Schlossberg estimates that for every $1,000 a family pays for auto insurance, at least $100 of it goes to inflated and fraudulent claims. "And that's a conservative picture," he adds.
But insurance fraud agencies and organizations are making progress. Growing recognition is prompting a higher priority to fighting insurance crime. New and more stringent laws have been enacted at all government levels. Measures such as legislation, cooperation, and data base sharing are in place. "It will be a tough decade for claim fraudsters," adds Goodfriend.
To find out more about insurance crime and what fraud groups are doing to combat it, The Premium Dollar Today will air on USA Cable Network, March 11, 6 a.m., EST. It is brought to the public by Reliance National Insurance Company in association with the insurance practice of KPMG Peat Marwick and the Society of Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriters (CPCU), with editorial input provided by Business Insurance magazine.
Reliance National is a full service property/casualty insurance operation. It is a part of Reliance Group Holdings, Inc., whose operations include insurance as well as technical and management consulting.
The Society of CPCU is a non-profit association founded in 1944 to promote and ensure excellence in insurance and risk management. The society has more than 20,000 members in 147 chapters across the United States.
Through 135 offices in the United States, KPMG Peat Marwick provides industry-specific professional services to a broad range of businesses, including insurance and other financial institutions, high technology, manufacturing and health care companies, as well as government, education and other not-for-profit institutions. KPMG has more than 76,000 people worldwide, operates in 125 countries and posted 1991 revenues of $6 billion.
EDITOR'S NOTE: KPMG Peat Marwick's insurance practice advises insurance companies on a variety of issues affecting their business. If you would like to speak to a KPMG Peat Marwick professional on insurance crime, please call contact.
/CONTACT: Beth De Lisi of KPMG Peat Marwick, 212-909-5128/ CO: KPMG Peat Marwick ST: New York IN: INS SU:
KD-KW -- NY061 -- 7040 03/10/92 16:27 EST