Don't Be a Victim: What
You Can Do to Avoid Insurance Crime
Insurance crime is not victimless. The cost to Canadians is estimated to be more than several billion a year in insurance premiums and health care, emergency services and court costs. Insurance criminals take money right out of your pocket - when they cheat, you pay.
Insurance companies are committed to putting an end to this type of crime. Individual companies and Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) investigate insurance crimes and educate Canadians about their costs and consequences. IBC also lobbies for legislative changes
that will increase the risk and decrease the profit associated with this type of activity.
You can help combat insurance crime. Below are some precautions you can
take to avoid being a victim of insurance crime, and some clues to help
you identify an insurance crime in action. If you have information about
an insurance crime, report it.
Auto accident insurance crime
To avoid a staged collision:
- Never tailgate; allow ample time to stop if the car ahead of you suddenly jams on its brakes.
- Look beyond the car in front of you while driving. Apply your brakes
if you see traffic slowing.
In the event of a collision:
- Get the other car's licence plate number. Also, count how many passengers were in the other car when the accident took place. Get their names, phone numbers and driver's licence numbers. Later, you can compare this information to the information on the resulting claims, to make sure that all of the claimants were actually passengers in the car.
- Note descriptions of the passengers. Try to find some characteristic
that distinguishes each passenger.
- Note how the passengers behave. Do they stand around and joke, but
suddenly act injured when the police arrive?
- Take pictures of the other car, the damage it received and the passengers. Take pictures on your cellphone or keep a disposable camera in your glove compartment for this purpose.
- Call the police to the scene. Get a police report with the officer's
name, even if the damage is minor. If the police report notes just a
small dent or scratch, it will be harder for crooks to claim serious
injuries or car damage later.
- Get involved if you're a witness. Watch for the warning signs of a
scam, and help the honest victim with details.
- Call IBC's TIPS line
if you suspect an insurance crime. The 24-hour toll-free number is 1-877-IBC-TIPS (422-8477). Give the location of the collision, the licence plate number(s) of the car(s) involved, the names of people involved, the reason you think the collision is suspicious and as many other details as possible.
You can use the collision
report form to note the details about the accident, the driver(s)
and the passengers.
The Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) offers excellent advice about what to do when you are approached by a tow truck driver at the scene of an accident. This advice applies in most jurisdictions in Canada:
- Make sure the tow truck has some kind of licensing number on its
side before you use its services.
- Look to see if the tow truck is affiliated with a reputable company
such as an automotive roadside assistance group or automobile association.
- Ask if the tow truck driver has a police contract.
- Listen for obvious clues. Does the driver recommend a particular repair facility without being asked? This might be an indication that a referral fee arrangement exists.
- Carefully read everything the tow truck driver asks you to sign.
- Ask that your vehicle be taken to a secure location where an adjuster
or appraiser from your insurance company can have access to it.
- Contact your insurance company, if possible, for information on towing
and where to take your vehicle to be repaired.
- Consider having your vehicle towed to a preferred vehicle repair
shop. Some insurance companies use preferred repair shops where they
have an agreement that guarantees your vehicle will be repaired to the
highest possible standards. For more information, contact your insurance
After a collision:
- Contact your insurance company if a stranger tries to steer you to
an unknown body shop, doctor, chiropractor or lawyer. Give officials
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 a stranger.
- Check out the doctor or lawyer. Contact your provincial medical licensing board to ensure that your doctor is licensed and that no complaints have been lodged against him or her.
- Know what your medical benefits are – what's covered and what
- 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.
- Compare your records against the statements you receive to make sure the bills aren't padded 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.
- Never sign blank insurance claim forms.
- Never give strangers your policy number, insurance ID number or any
other information, especially if they offer you cash or free gifts,
treatments or equipment.
Slips, trips and falls in business settings
Criminals are lazy. They don't want to have to work for their reward so they will target businesses that make their job easier for them. Don't let your operation be an easy target for an insurance criminal looking to cash in big on a little "accident." There are some simple steps you can take to make your business less vulnerable to these criminals. Click
here to get some tips on managing the many types of risk that businesses face every day.
Check your VIN
Many insurance crimes are committed using or re-using vehicle identification numbers (VINs).Your best defence against this type of insurance crime is to ensure that your VIN is accurate.
Click here for more information about how to check your VIN.
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