Identifying insurance fraud, how to protect yourself

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Auto insurance fraud can take many different forms. The Anti-Fraud Unit of the Oklahoma Insurance Department wants consumers to be aware of how to protect themselves from insurance-related crime.

Here are several different types of auto insurance fraud and ways that you can prevent from becoming a victim.

  1.  Premium Embezzlement - This happens when an insurance agent keeps the money you put down for insurance, leaving you without insurance. What can you do? Make sure a copy of your auto insurance police is mailed to you within a week or so. If you don't receive it, contact the insurance company - not the agent - to verify the premium was received and the policy is in force.
  2. Staged Accidents - Scammers will lure you into an accident, and then claim to police that it was all your fault. They may also try to "settle" with you "out of pocket" without reporting the accident. What can you do? Always stay inside your lanes while driving and follow "right of way" procedures. Be on the lookout for cars cutting in front of you and behind you, both on the road and in private parking lots.
  3. Inflated Claims - This is also known as opportunistic fraud, and it happens when people pad a legitimate claim. This fraud can happen when someone wants to retaliate to "get their money's worth" on insurance. What can you do? Never claim more damage than there is. Insurance fraud causes rate increases that affect everyone and filing an inflated claim is a felony.
  4. Collision Repair Fraud - An auto repair shop may try to make more money when they are fixing you car after a wreck. In this case, the shop would bill insurance for new factory parts, but instead, use old or subpar parts. What do you do? Use a reputable repaid shop based on recommendations from your family or friends. You can ask your insurance company for a recommendation, but know that you can take your car to any repair shop you choose. Also, get a written damage report instead of a written estimate of cost from your repair shop.
  5. Bogus Vehicle Thefts - This occurs when a person gets behind on payments and reports his vehicle stolen in order to get an insurance payoff. Criminal rings may use the same concept by purchasing full-coverage policies on vehicles they later intend to "lose." Vehicles may be traded for drugs, weapons, or re-sold on the black market. What can you do? If you suspect a bogus theft scam, report it immediately to your local law enforcement agency or the Oklahoma Insurance Department's Anti-Fraud Unit.

If you suspect fraud, report it by calling 800-522-0071 or click here.

Click here for more information on auto scams.


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