Insurance industry estimates 10 to 20 per cent of auto insurance claims contain at least one element of fraud or exaggeration. Fraudulent claims cost B.C. up to $600 million each year, or every driver more than $100 on their annual insurance policy.
In order to combat fraud and raise awareness, ICBC’s Special Investigations Unit opened 2,350 cyber cases last year. ICBC has also beefed up its training program to help frontline staff detect fraud, and later this year, it will purchase special fraud software that will help to quickly flag patterns and high predictors of fraud at the beginning of the claims process.
Investigators look at online profiles and social media activity to discover when people are exaggerating their claims lying about their injuries.
ICBC has released some examples of cyber fraud cases last year where people were caught red-handed online as part of its anti-fraud campaign.
Roller Derby Ruse
After getting into a crash, a woman complained that her injuries were preventing her from going back to work as a hairdresser. But according to her Facebook and Twitter accounts, although she may not have been able to go to work, she still had the energy to go hiking, running, and join a roller derby team. A rising star on the rink, her updates regaled the many injuries she incurred as one of the ‘hardest hitters’ on the team. When confronted with the evidence, the woman agreed fair compensation was about half of what she was originally demanding, and she settled her claim.
Kung Fu Cure
A Lower Mainland man claimed that he was unable to go back to his desk job due to his injuries, following a collision in Vancouver. Shortly after his claim was submitted, investigators found pictures of him on Facebook showcasing his athletic prowess, while supposedly recovering from his crash. In one photo, posted by a friend, he’s seen crossing the finish line of a grueling 12-mile obstacle race in Whistler. In another, it’s a video of him taking down an opponent at a mixed martial arts facility. After the evidence was shown to him, he quickly settled his claim, citing a miraculous recovery from his injuries.
When There’s Smoke…
A Kamloops man reported to police and ICBC that his truck – which he claimed was in good working condition – had been set on fire by vandals. The representative who took his claim smelled smoke, so ICBC’s cyber investigators did some digging and found the same truck listed for sale on Craigslist. In the description, the owner revealed his motive when he wrote that he was putting his vehicle up for sale because he couldn’t afford to pay for the repairs his truck sorely needed. Furthermore, the estimator inspecting the vehicle uncovered physical evidence confirming that the fire was suspicious. The man was denied payment on his claim, and was left with an idle truck.
Million Dollar Mischief
A Kelowna woman was involved in a minor MVA when she was hit by a motorcycle while walking in a crosswalk with friends. The case went to trial where she demanded $1M for her injuries. In court, the judge heard the woman make inconsistent statements, and found the reports from her father and medical providers contradictory to her claims as well. ICBC investigators also submitted social media posts that challenged her claims. As a result of the overwhelming amount of evidence that showed she had grossly exaggerated her injuries, the judge denied her $1M request and awarded her only $20,000 for her actual injuries. She was also required to pay for ICBC’s legal costs – about $34,000.
Insurance fraud can be reported to ICBC’s tips line at 1-800-661-6844. Tip information is confidential and callers can remain anonymous.