How do I protect myself from auto insurance fraud?

You know the saying, “a good defence is a good offence”? You hear it all the time in sports but it also applies to everyday life – and it’s especially relevant when it comes to preventing auto insurance fraud. The more you know and the better prepared you are, the less chance you’ll be taken advantage of.

Auto insurance fraud is when a person knowingly sets out to deceive an insurer in order to gain financially. It could be falsified benefit forms or filing more than one claim for a single injury. It could also be a staged accident – but how do you know if an accident is legit or not? We have a few tips that can help.

Was it truly an accident?

It’s not always easy to spot a staged collision, but there are some typical “tricks of the trade” that can indicate it might have happened on purpose:

  • Another driver stops and waves to let you in, but proceeds to drive into your vehicle as soon as you make your move.
  • Another driver cuts you off and immediately slams on the brakes for no apparent reason, causing you to rear-end his car.
  • The other driver is eager to leave the scene and asks you to meet up at the collision reporting centre before you’ve had a chance to assess the situation or take down information like the vehicle’s make, model, and licence plate number.
  • A tow truck shows up right away and recommends a specific repair shop instead of asking where you’d like to take your vehicle.
  • The tow truck driver begins asking you questions about the accident or recommends you visit a certain medical facility or lawyer (be cautious when discussing anything but the condition of your vehicle, and consider recommendations very carefully)
  • The other driver — or the tow truck driver — asks you to sign any kind of document (never sign anything at the scene)

Stay focused, stay alert.

Distracted driving is a fraudster’s best friend. Criminals often look for a target who is clearly distracted, and it only takes a few minutes for a professional to assess your habits. Here’s what they’re looking for:

  • Anyone who is looking down, checking their phone or texting.
  • Drivers who are on the phone or having an animated “hands-free” conversation.
  • Hungry and thirsty drivers who just can’t resist the urge to eat or drink while driving.
  • Drivers who are looking at the mirror in their flipped-down visor (checking their teeth, fixing their hair, etc.)

If you suspect auto insurance fraud…

  • Contact your insurance company if a stranger tries to steer you to an unknown car repair facility, doctor, medical clinic or lawyer. Provide the names, addresses and phone numbers of these service providers.
  • See only medical and legal professionals you know and trust, or that are recommended by people you trust. Never take referrals offered by strangers.
  • Know what your medical benefits are – what’s covered and what isn’t.
  • Never sign blank insurance claims forms.
  • Review all forms completed to ensure the information is correct.
  • Keep detailed records of your medical treatments. Include all dates, locations, who provided the treatments, what diagnoses and services you received, and what medicine, supplies or equipment were provided to you.
  • Compare your records against the statements you receive from your insurance company to make sure the invoices are correct and that they don’t include treatments you didn’t receive.
  • Are the treatment dates, doctor name(s), facility locations and medical services the same as you remember? Question your health provider and ask for clarification if you see problems or inconsistencies on your bills.
  • Read your insurance policy. Your policy provides specific details about your insurance coverage’s, your rights, and your responsibilities under the contract.

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