Monday, December 14, 2009

Insurance fraud: Fake hate crimes can disguise arson, a steep rise in suspicious claims, and fake and deceptive health plans

The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, an industry group, says that two types of insurance scams are on the rise: suspicious claims and fake or deceptive health plans. From the organization's winter newsletter:

"Overall, the monthly average of suspicious claims rose more than 36 percent in the first half of 2009 compared to the same period in 2008, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau."

The story has a lot of examples, from a simple slip-and-fall claim to a man who falsely claimed that his tongue had been pierced by a needle hidden in a fast-food hamburged.

The health-plan story talks about people desperate for affordable health coverage who get taken in by "health cons" selling what is purported to be be full-benefit health coverage but in reality is far from it. The story -- full disclosure -- quotes one of our own investigators, Ted Bader:

"These swindles have spread so fast that regulators in many states have been forced to take immediate action to protect consumers due to the sheer volume of such schemes"

said Bader, saying that the cases under investigation are just the tip of the iceberg.

Insurance news: health reform bill struggles, swine flu coverage Q&A, and a tug-of-war over car stolen 35 years ago...

Health-care reform continues to struggle on Capitol Hill. A sampling:

Bloomberg: Democrats' Health-Care Breakthrough Hinges on Cost, Holdouts
NYT: Health Fight Echoes the Stimulus Battle
The Olympian: Senate Dems Struggle to Get Health Care on Track has an interesting factcheck-type story entitled "The Five Biggest Myths About Health Reform."

Travelling? Worried about swine flu? The Seattle Times answers your questions about what travel insurance covers and doesn't.

And now your reward for reading this far: There's a bit of an insurance tug-of-war over a 44-year-old Volkswagen microbus, recovered in beautifully restored condition. Allstate, the insurer that paid the claim when the car was stolen, reports several hundred inquiries from interested buyers. The company is reportedly trying to decide whether to donate the vehicle to a museum or give it back to the woman from whom it was 1974.