July 24, 2003 by Canadian Underwriter
Hot on the heels of its recent success in a lawsuit against a staged accident auto ring involving 25 defendants and about $1 million in fraud-related costs, the Insurance Corp. of British Columbia (ICBC) has filed an action with the B.C. Supreme Court naming 21 people and three companies allegedly having partaken in similarly fraudulent schemes. The lawsuit looks to recover about $375,000 in claims paid as well as punitive damages, interest and adjusting, investigation and legal costs, according to an ICBC statement.
The latest legal action refers to 12 staged accidents that occurred between 1996 and 2001, states the ICBC statement of claim. The accidents took place at various locations through the Lower Mainland and one incident near Whistler. The three businesses named in the suit are based in Vancouver, North Vancouver and New Westminster.
The crown insurer says investigation into the claims history of two of the named defendants showed an unusually large number of theft and injury claims. By cross-checking files of associates of the two parties in question, the insurer was able to establish a similar pattern of high claims incidence. ICBC notes that any criminal or regulatory offences detected by the insurer in its claims investigations will be passed onto the police and crown counsel for further investigation and possible prosecution. “It is not acceptable for use to sit back and simply pass the cost of fraud onto our customers. We have adopted a zero tolerance for fraud and we will pursue fraudulent claims aggressively through civil lawsuits,” says Mark Withenshaw, vice president of loss management at ICBC.