Thursday, February 5, 2015

Washington consumers and the Anthem data breach

Insurance giant Anthem today announced that up to 80 million consumers nationwide may be affected by a data breach of current and former customers’ names, social security numbers, contact information and birthdates. It does not appear that any health information was obtained.

Anthem has told the Insurance Commissioner that affected Washington consumers are largely enrolled in Apple Health, the state’s Medicaid program. Anthem does not have any indications at this time that Washington consumers who are enrolled in private, individual health insurance are affected by the breach.

Insurers are required to notify the Insurance Commissioner of security breaches that involve Washington consumers’ information. The Insurance Commissioner will remain in close contact with Anthem as more information is available. The Insurance Commissioner is also working with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners on this increasingly common occurrence.

Anthem has created a webpage at www.anthemfacts.com for consumers to find information about the breach and set up a toll-free number for people with questions at 1-877-263-7995. Anthem will contact affected consumers and is offering free credit monitoring and identity protection to people who are affected.

Two men plead guilty in thwarted insurance fraud attempt

Two men pleaded guilty to attempted theft in an insurance fraud case that was investigated by Insurance Commisisoner Mike Kreidler’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU).

In January 2014, Emad Mohammed, 26, crashed a 2003 Corolla while merging onto I-5 from SR 516, totaling the car and injuring himself. That day, his cousin Imran Nsaif, 30, called his insurer, Progressive, to make a claim on his commercial auto policy. Nsaif operated a truck that transported autos on a trailer and claimed the Corolla was struck by a hit-and-run driver while Mohammed was loading it onto the truck. Nsaif told the insurance company he was transporting the car for an auto dealership and they were loading the car onto the truck on the side of the road. Progressive obtained a copy of the Washington State Patrol collision report, which contradicted what Nsaif and Mohammed told the insurance company. Additionally, the collision scene photos did not show Mohammed’s rig at the scene of the accident.

Progressive denied the $7,500 claim and referred the case to Commissioner Kreidler’s SIU.

Mohamed and Nsaif were charged in King County Superior Court in September 2014 with a felony. On Jan. 29, 2015, Mohammed and Nsaif pleaded guilty to attempted theft and were sentenced to 100 hours of community service, to be completed by July 29.

Insurance fraud costs everyone. Estimated to be 10 percent of all insurance claims, the cost of fraud is passed on to consumers through increased premiums. Citizens can report suspected insurance fraud to the Insurance Commissioner.