January 12, 2018 by Jason Contant
Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) has released its top five frauds of 2017. The annual list is selected by reviewing a number of factors, including “sheer uniqueness of the fraud, financial savings for MPI and investigative excellence in unearthing the fraud.”
Number 1: Muddy Situation
In this case, a vehicle owner reported travelling on a gravel road; while attempting to turn around, the driver lost control and sped into a water-filled ditch.
The investigation told another story: the vehicle had in fact been “drowned” while four-wheel mudding. A webpage for a local Jeep club published a photo from a long weekend rally, showing the vehicle stuck and buried in deep mud.
The investigation also revealed that the Jeep owner had previously attempted to get the vehicle fixed at a dealership, where technicians explained the damage (water in engine oil) was not covered.
Presented with all the facts, the vehicle owner withdrew their claim.
“Thanks to the seasoned investigative skills of an SIU (special investigations unit) investigator, a fraudulent total loss claim was discovered, saving MPI and its ratepayers $36,000,” MPI said in a release.
Number 2: One Hail of a Story
MPI denied a hail claim of nearly $6,000 after “the keen eyes” of staff determined that dents in a vehicle were caused by a tool or object and not hail.
According to MPI, the vehicle owner stated that they went shopping and the vehicle was damaged by a severe hailstorm while the vehicle was parked outside. In total, the vehicle had nearly 200 dents.
MPI staff, familiar with how vehicle paint is affected by hail stones, quickly confirmed the dents were not consistent with hail. When presented with the findings of the experts, the vehicle owner withdrew their claim.
Number 3: Doesn’t Always Pay to Advertise
On the surface, this collision claim didn’t appear to be out of the ordinary: the driver admitted they had gotten into a fender bender.
The novice driver indicated they had a supervising driver at the time of the crash. Soon after, an experienced employee with MPI noticed a classified ad in a foreign-language newspaper, asking for a “supervising driver.”
With this information, the vehicle owner later confirmed to an SIU investigator that they did not have a supervising driver and withdrew their claim, in addition to signing a $2,500 promissory note for the total cost of repairs to the third-party vehicle.
Number 4: Camera Captures All
The vehicle owner opened a single-vehicle collision claim stating that he had loaned his vehicle to a friend, who accidentally crashed the car into a cement pole after swerving to miss an animal.
However, when attending to the scene, investigators noticed a closed-circuit security camera mounted directly above the crash site.
The video clearly showed the vehicle driven at a high speed directly into the cement pole — with no animal anywhere to be seen. The video also proved the driver was not a friend, but in fact, the owner of the vehicle.
The vehicle owner repaid MPI the $7,000 cost of the repair when presented with the evidence.
Number 5: Actively Injured
A claimant began receiving income replacement payments from MPI after saying they were too injured to return to work. As the months passed, “suspicions arose about how injured the claimant really was.” An extensive investigation soon discovered the claimant led a “very active life, including making regular trips to the gym where they were seen lifting heavy amounts of weights.”
Based on the evidence of the investigation and opinions of experienced medical experts, it was determined the claimant was physically fit to return to work without issue. As a result, MPI terminated the income replacement payments, an estimated saving of nearly $55,000.