When the insurer Geico started selling auto policies in Massachusetts in 2009, it used low prices, a big Internet presence, and ubiquitous advertising to grab business from competitors. But it ran head-on into a local problem: rampant insurance fraud.

Insurers here have fought back against staged car accidents, faked injuries, and bogus medical bills mostly by referring cases to law enforcement. But Geico took a different — and more controversial — tack, suing local chiropractors and physical therapists and forcing them into expensive legal battles.

Most of the cases end up settling, with the practices agreeing to no longer accept Geico clients, according to court documents, defense lawyers, and defendants.

The number of cases isn’t big: at least seven filed in state or federal court since 2012. But Geico’s use of civil courts, rather than criminal, has some defense lawyers complaining that the company is aggressively trying to avoid medical claims from clinics in lower-income communities.

“These kinds of general fraud lawsuits can have a significant chilling effect on clinics,” said Jeffrey Coniaris, a Weston lawyer, “and could easily be used to get all the clinics in any neighborhood to stop seeing patients with a certain brand of car insurance.’’

Coniaris represented Boston Therapy, an East Boston clinic that Geico took to court in 2013 over claims of about $78,000. The case was subsequently dismissed.

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