Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lewis County couple convicted of insurance fraud

A Lewis County couple have been sentenced to jail for filing a false insurance claim.

Jennifer Mau, 30, and David Eden, 47, were found guilty by a jury on Friday.

Their case began as a moving claim. They rented a U-Haul truck on March 30, 2007 to move their household goods and personal belongings from a Centralia storage facility to their new home. They claimed that the U-Haul truck leaked rainwater, destroying $16,789 worth of her property.

Mau reported the loss to U-Haul and filed a claim. The couple said they threw out the damaged property at a landfill.

The insurer had the U-Haul truck water tested for leaks. No leaks were found. The insurer, Republic Western Insurance, denied Mau's claim and turned the case over to state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler's Special Investigations Unit. The SIU's investigation included checks with local weather stations, which reported little or no precipitation that night.

The court sentenced Mau to 60 days in jail, with the option of electronic home monitoring. Eden was sentenced to 15 days in jail. (Both sentences are stayed pending a possible appeal.)

Cease-and-desist order issued against Capital HomeShield

Washington State Insurance Commissoiner Mike Kreidler has issued a cease-and-desist order against a Florida-based home warranty company doing business as Capital Home Shield.

The North Miami Beach company -- which was not registered as a service contract provider or insurer in Washington state -- nonetheless sold a contract to a Washington homeowner. He complained to us after he had difficulty getting them to pay for a repair to his stove. The company subsequently paid the claim.

Under the contract, Capital Home Shield, which is a doing-business-as name of MN Home Warranty Corp., promised to pay to repair or replace major systems and appliances that broke.

Kreidler ordered the company to to stop selling unauthorized contracts in Washington and to turn over a list of all its Washington clients, as well as reporting all premiums they've paid so far.

According to the local Better Business Bureau, the company has an "F" rating for repeatedly failing to respond to complaints.

Everett man who signed up for insurance AFTER crash pleads guilty

A 40-year-old Everett man who caused a three-car collision last fall has pleaded guilty to attempted insurance fraud, a gross misdemeanor.

On Oct. 8, 2009, Bieniek was driving his 1999 Ford F150 pickup. He'd owned it for about 5 years but didn't have insurance on it.

He claimed that just minutes before the collision, he'd picked up the truck from a friend in a parking lot, opened his laptop computer and bought insurance online from Geico Insurance.

But Geico, after pulling the company's online log, determined that Bieniek got the coverage after the wreck, not before. The company turned the case over to the Washington state insurance commissioner's Special Investigations Unit. Bieniek was charged with insurance fraud ("false claims or proof") in King County Superior Court in July.

On Friday, Bieniek pleaded guilty to attempted insurance fraud. He was sentenced to 6 months' probation, 120 hours of community service and a $500 victim penalty assesssment.