A woman too hurt to go to work yet finds time for roller derby, a man who sets his own truck on fire then tries to make a claim, and a man who completes a grueling 12-mile obstacle race despite claiming to be severely injured — these are just three phony cases caught by ICBC, using evidence found publicly available online. 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.
Insurance industry estimates indicate 10 to 20 per cent of auto insurance claims contain an element of fraud or exaggeration. Meaning, fraudulent claims like these cost B.C. up to $600 million each year, or every driver more than $100 on their annual insurance policy.
In order to combat fraud and keep costs down, ICBC 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, ICBC will purchase special fraud software that will help to quickly flag patterns and high predictors of fraud at the beginning of the claims process.
While the vast majority of ICBC’s customers are honest, there are some drivers that choose to exaggerate or make false claims. ICBC’s anti-fraud campaign intends to raise awareness about fraudulent insurance claims and its financial impact to all B.C. drivers.
Here are some cases that happened in 2015 of people caught red-handed online:
Roller Derby Ruse
After getting into a crash, a woman complained that her injuries were preventing her from going back to work as a hairdresser. But according to her Facebook and Twitter accounts, although she may not have been able to go to work, she still had the energy to go hiking, running, and join a roller derby team. A rising star on the rink, her updates regaled the many injuries she incurred as one of the ‘hardest hitters’ on the team. When confronted with the evidence, the woman agreed fair compensation was about half of what she was originally demanding, and she settled her claim.
Kung Fu Cure
A Lower Mainland man claimed that he was unable to go back to his desk job due to his injuries, following a collision in Vancouver. Shortly after his claim was submitted, investigators found pictures of him on Facebook showcasing his athletic prowess, while supposedly recovering from his crash. In one photo, posted by a friend, he’s seen crossing the finish line of a grueling 12-mile obstacle race in Whistler. In another, it’s a video of him taking down an opponent at a mixed martial arts facility. After the evidence was shown to him, he quickly settled his claim, citing a miraculous recovery from his injuries.
When There’s Smoke…
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. The representative who took his claim smelled smoke, so ICBC’s cyber investigators did some digging and found the same truck listed for sale 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 his truck sorely needed. Furthermore, the estimator inspecting the vehicle uncovered physical evidence confirming that the fire was suspicious. The man was denied payment on his claim, and was left with an idle truck.
Million Dollar Mischief
A Kelowna woman was involved in a minor MVA when she was hit by a motorcycle while walking in a crosswalk with friends. The case went to trial where she demanded $1M 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 investigators also submitted social media posts that challenged her claims. As a result of the overwhelming amount of evidence that showed she had grossly exaggerated her injuries, the judge denied her $1M request and awarded her only $20,000 for her actual injuries. She was also required to pay for ICBC’s legal costs – about $34,000.
Insurance fraud increases claims costs, which leads to higher premiums for every British Columbian needing auto insurance.
The public can protect their wallets by reporting suspicious activities related to insurance fraud to ICBC’s toll-free tips line at 1-800-661-6844. Tip information is confidential and callers can remain anonymous.