News: 2009 Press Release
For Release: February 9, 2009
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner Announces $1 Million Grant For Fresno County to Fight Workers’ Compensation Insurance Fraud
FRESNO ― Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, joined by Fresno County District Attorney Elizabeth Egan, announced today a $1 million grant for the Fresno County District Attorney's office to fight insurance fraud.
"In this struggling economy, it is more important than ever to help businesses to stay and expand in the state. Because fraud drives up the costs of workers' compensation insurance, we must continue to be vigilant in our battle with those who dishonestly and illegally take advantage of the system," said Commissioner Poizner. "Fraud is not a victimless crime. It imposes a $500 hidden tax on every man, woman and child in California. I am happy to provide this funding to the Fresno County D.A. which will greatly enhance our effort to stamp out fraud that damages the local economy."
Below is a chart of the funds distributed to Fresno and surrounding counties and areas:
Counties must annually apply for these grants. The applications are reviewed by the Workers' Compensation Grant Review Panel based on a number of criteria, including the previous year's performance. The panel makes a recommendation to the Insurance Commissioner who can accept or amend the panel's recommendation. At that point, the Insurance Commissioner's final decision must be ratified by the Fraud Assessment Commission.
The funds will be distributed in two installments. The first is expected by the end of February. The funds stem from an assessment authorized by the legislature and collected by the Department of Industrial Relations.
Commissioner Poizner has worked tirelessly to fight insurance fraud. In addition to providing grants to local district attorneys, he oversees 16 CDI Enforcement Branch regional offices throughout the state. Close to 1900 insurance fraud-related arrests have been made by the Department of Insurance's enforcement division since Commissioner Poizner took office in 2007 - more arrests than have been made during any other two year period, under any previous insurance commissioner.
In addition, after a meeting of the Advisory Task Force on Insurance Fraud, Blue Ribbon Review Committee last year, Commissioner Poizner announced the implementation of five actions to help reduce fraudulent claims, including the creation of a fusion center for insurance fraud investigations so law enforcement can share information more efficiently and quickly to identify emerging trends and crime patterns.
Additional steps include:
· Better training for the Special Investigation units on the recognition, documentation, and reporting of suspected insurance fraud claims.
· Recognizing insurance companies that go beyond compliance for their greater commitment to fighting fraud.
· Increasing the outreach efforts of CDI about the consequences of fraud, how the public can recognize it and report it.
· Adopting more aggressive recruiting and retention practices, including pay upgrades, so that CDI can recruit and retain qualified investigators.
The Task Force was created by Commissioner Poizner to bring together public and private sector experts to develop innovative methods to combat insurance fraud. The inaugural Task Force meeting was held in May 2007.
A copy of the report can be found at www.insurance.ca.gov.
Please visit the Department of Insurance Web site at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.HELP. Callers from out of state, please dial 213.897.8921. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.
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