California Has Rise in Auto Insurance Fraud

October 26, 2009

In the year 2008, there was a 25 percent increase in suspected vehicle arson fraud in California, according to the state commissioner.

Department of Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner said that recently compiled statistics show that scam artists may be committing more automobile insurance fraud to cash in on insurance money.

“Many families are facing financial challenges in today’s economy, but I want to remind everybody that you will only compound your problems if you break the law and commit fraud in search of a quick fix,” said Commissioner Poizner, in a statement. The department’s “investigators are seeing an increase in suspected automobile arson and theft fraud cases recently, and our enforcement experts are cracking down on anyone attempting to cheat the law for personal gain.”

The Department of Insurance receives referrals of suspected fraud cases from insurance companies, local law enforcement agencies and directly from consumers. The enforcement officers carefully examine every case that is brought to the Department’s attention.

The department saw an alarming 25 percent increase in suspected vehicle arson fraud cases in 2008 as compared with referred cases in 2007. In 2007, the department received 344 referrals for suspected automobile arson; in 2008, the department received 451 referrals for suspected automobile arson.

Overall, the Department received almost 300 additional suspected vehicle theft and vehicle arson cases statewide in 2008 than in 2007. The department received approximately 200 more suspected vehicle theft fraud case referrals in 2008 than in 2007.

While the total number of suspected fraud case referrals received by the department for all automobile fraud categories (including inflated damages, vandalism and hit and run,) has remained relatively constant since 2007, suspected vehicle arson and theft referrals have noticeably increased.

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