More than 30 people in San Diego County were arrested for auto insurance fraud in a statewide sweep by the California Department of Insurance, the agency announced Wednesday.
Thirty-five people were charged with 84 felony counts of fraud for allegedly being uninsured or underinsured and purchasing or adding more coverage after a collision or sustained damage. The suspects then allegedly filed a fraudulent claim in an attempt to get the insurer to cover the damage to the uninsured vehicle.
“Unfortunately, this type of insurance crime is surprisingly common,” Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said. “Insurance fraud is an expensive drain on the state’s economy that totals into the billions of dollars annually in California. This is not a victimless crime. The cost of these scams is passed along to consumers through higher rates and premiums — everyone pays for insurance fraud.”
In some cases the fraud was uncovered before the insurer paid on the claim, in others it was discovered after the claims were paid.
Statewide, 195 people were arrested in 22 counties for alleged insurance fraud committed against 40 insurance companies. Two suspects are insurance professionals, including a claims adjuster, another case involved a pedestrian fatality, one included a vehicle allegedly used to transport drugs from Mexico, and one investigation uncovered a staged collision, which is under further investigation.
Detectives suspect that the actual and potential losses to insurers totaled more than $1 million.
“The lesson here is simple — don’t drive without insurance,” Jones said. “California’s financial responsibility law requires drivers to be insured. It is simply not worth risking arrest and serving jail time. There are affordable options to help drivers meet there obligation to have insurance.”
The San Diego County District Attorney’s office assisted with the investigations along with insurance company special investigation units and the National Insurance Crime Bureau and will be prosecuting the San Diego cases.
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