A man who set his own truck on fire and then tried to make a claim and a woman who wanted $1 million for injuries from a minor vehicle accident were just two of the fraud cases from last year, discovered “using evidence found publicly available online,” the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) said on Thursday.
In the first case, 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, ICBC said in a press release. ICBC’s cyber investigators researched the claim and found the same truck listed 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 the truck needed, the provincial Crown corporation said in the release. In addition, the estimator inspecting the vehicle uncovered “physical evidence confirming that the fire was suspicious.” The man was denied payment on his claim.
Another case involved a Kelowna woman was involved in a minor motor vehicle in which she was hit by a motorcycle while walking through a crosswalk with friends, ICBC explained. The case went to trial, where the woman demanded $1 million 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 said. Insurance investigators also submitted social media posts that challenged her claims. The judge denied her request and awarded her only about $20,000 for her actual injuries, ICBC said, adding that she was required to pay for ICBC’s legal costs of about $34,000.
“Many of those who exaggerate claims expose their own lies by posting photos and updates on their social media profiles that are inconsistent with their claims,” the release noted.
Insurance industry estimates indicate that 10% to 20% of auto insurance claims contain an element of fraud or exaggeration. Fraudulent claims like these cost B.C. up to $600 million each year, or every driver more than $100 on their annual insurance policy, ICBC estimated.
In order to combat fraud and keep costs down, ICBC reported that is has enhanced its Special Investigations Unit by taking many of its investigations online. Last year, 2350 cyber cases were opened. ICBC has also beefed up its training program to help frontline staff detect fraud, and later this year, the corporation will purchase special fraud software that will help to quickly flag patterns and high predictors of fraud at the beginning of the claims process.