Insurance Fraud Not Limited to Auto Insurance

February 4, 2010

Stories about auto insurance fraud and how to handle it if you’re a victim abound, as does advice on everything from how to spot the most common staged accident scenarios to how to deal with your insurance company if you’re run off the road, but insurance fraud is on the rise throughout the industry, not just within the realm of auto insurance.

Just as Internet scammers claiming to be collecting money for victims of the earthquake in Haiti, were trawling the internet for unsuspecting donators, there are as many types of fraud as there are insurance.

Recently, ran a story warning consumers about a rash of travel insurance fraud in Florida. In this case, the scam involved an unlicensed “insurance company” selling policies to cruise customers. All of the cruises were eventually cancelled, and over 300 complaints were logged before the company was shut down.

While that event was unfortunate, the more common form of travel insurance is on the consumer’s side, and involves travelers claiming missing bags that never existed, or claiming much higher values for the contents of their lost luggage, than their belongings are actually worth.

Whatever the form, insurance fraud is not likely to disappear. How can you protect yourself?

  1. Always purchase insurance from a reputable firm; if you’re not sure of a company’s track record, read reviews, and check with the BBB.
  2. Whether it’s auto insurance, homeowners insurance, or travel insurance, be sure to read all the fine print of your policy, and ask questions if there’s anything you don’t understand.
  3. Document everything, and take pictures whenever possible. Pictures of your belongings will help you track them later; pictures of accident scenes or damaged goods will help your claim get processed faster.
  4. Always cooperate with insurance investigators.
  5. Know your rights. Check with your state’s department of insurance for important consumer guidelines.

While it’s never a good thing to be a victim of insurance fraud, experiencing travel-related fraud is always a bit more jarring, especially since it often happens when you’re nowhere near the comfort of home. Remember that there are always people willing to help if you need it. Remember also, that your state’s insurance department keeps a list of all the licensed insurers in your state.