Car insurance fraud a growing problem in Florida

In the United Sates, fraud is the second costliest white collar crime, behind tax evasion. In the last handful of years, car insurance fraud has become more popular in the state of Florida. Florida’s personal injury protection requirement for auto insurance requires companies to pay as much as $10,000 per person for medical treatment, regardless of who was at fault. That is enough to attract fraudsters.

According to authorities, there are some medical clinics that run staged-accident scheme and make patients receive unnecessary treatments or bill for services never provided in order to exhaust the $10,000 personal injury protection limit.  Clinics employ “runners” who solicit people to participate in staged accidents, employing them as “drivers.”

Runners brief recruits as to how the crash will occur, which driver would be at fault, the number of passengers to be in each car and what to tell police. The recruits then seek treatment at a specified clinic and receive compensation for doing so. One particular clinic, Metro Chiropractic & Wellness Center, took in over $1.5 million in payments from insurance companies between January 2010 and October 2011, though it isn’t clear whether any of the payments were legitimate.

Last year, state lawmakers made changes to the personal injury protection system, but a judge found the new law unconstitutional in March. The state will reportedly be seeking to appeal that ruling.

Those who participate in such schemes may be found guilty not only of fraud, but open themselves up to civil liability for the injuries they cause.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, “Case Highlights Staged Car Accidents, PIP Insurance Fraud in Florida,” Amy Pavuk, June 1, 2013.