News: 2009 Press Release
For Release: August 26, 2009
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Insurance Commissioner Poizner Announces Alarming Increase in Suspected Auto Insurance Fraud as Economy Worsens
Commissioner Poizner today announced in Los Angeles that recently compiled Department of Insurance statistics show that financially desperate residents and scam artists may be committing more automobile insurance fraud to cash in on insurance money. The Department of Insurance has seen an increase in suspected auto arson and auto theft fraud referrals last year.
"Many Californians are facing a host of financial challenges in today's economy, but I want to remind everybody that you will only compound your problems if you break the law and commit fraud in search of a quick fix," said Commissioner Poizner. "Department of Insurance investigators have seen an increase in suspected automobile arson and theft fraud cases recently, and our enforcement experts are working hard to crack down on anyone attempting to skirt the law for financial gain."
The Department of Insurance receives referrals of suspected fraud cases from insurance companies, local law enforcement agencies and directly from consumers. CDI enforcement officers carefully examine every case that is brought to the Department's attention.
CDI saw an alarming 31 percent increase in suspected vehicle arson fraud cases in 2008 as compared with referred cases in 2007. (In 2007, CDI received 344 referrals for suspected automobile arson; in 2008, CDI received 451 referrals for suspected automobile arson.) Overall, the Department received almost 300 additional suspected vehicle theft and vehicle arson cases statewide in 2008 than in 2007. CDI received approximately 200 more suspected vehicle theft fraud case referrals in 2008 than in 2007.
While the total number of suspected fraud case referrals received by CDI for all automobile fraud categories (including inflated damages, vandalism and hit and run,) has remained relatively constant since 2007, suspected vehicle arson and theft referrals have noticeably increased.
Commissioner Poizner oversees sixteen 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.
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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