Monday, June 11, 2018

Skipping commercial insurance is a bad idea for ridesharing drivers

Driving your own vehicle for a ridesharing company—Uber and Lyft are the most well-known—has become a popular side gig. Some drivers are illegally using their personal auto policies to insure their vehicles.

Rideshare drivers are not covered by their personal auto insurance policies. They are required to have a commercial or rideshare-specific auto insurance policy to cover them while they are driving for profit. In recent years, insurance companies have created products to cover drivers during the different periods – waiting to be hailed, en route to pick up a passenger, and while driving a passenger. Some of those policies are commercial, some of them are hybrid products that are in addition to your personal auto insurance. In addition, Uber and Lyft offer their own coverage for liability for passengers and third parties in the case of a collision.

If you are a rideshare driver and file a claim with your personal, non-rideshare auto insurance company for a collision that happened while you were on the clock, you are breaking the law. There are scores of online forums and sites that give drivers tips on how to get away with insurance fraud. Here are some reasons why you should not do that:
  • When the insurance company finds something amiss—and they will, they spend millions of dollars a year rooting out fraud—they are legally required to refer you to our office to be criminally investigated. 
  • You could be charged with filing a false insurance claim, attempted theft or theft, to start. If you are convicted or plead guilty, you could have a felony on your record for the rest of your life. 
  • Your auto insurer will likely opt to not renew your auto policy. You may have a hard time finding an auto insurance policy after being charged with insurance fraud and if you do, it will certainly cost you more than you used to pay. 
Cutting corners on insurance might seem like a way to save on business costs. In the long run, you are much better off paying for insurance that covers your rideshare business than possibly facing criminal charges.

More information about ridesharing and insurance.

Friday, June 1, 2018

New Medicare card scams hit nationwide

Medicare started mailing new cards to beneficiaries in April and will finish mailing them nationwide in a year. In Washington state, beneficiaries will start receiving their replacement cards this July.

The cards have a new look but, most importantly, they have unique numbers to replace the Social Security numbers previously used on the cards. Medicare created the new cards to reduce identity theft and fraud.
New Medicare card design

Ironically, fraudsters are capitalizing on the change to deceive beneficiaries. They may have many details about individuals, often gleaned from social media and other publicly available resources. They sound convincing.

The Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) helps beneficiaries fight back. SMP staff work in communities across the country to teach beneficiaries how to prevent, detect, and report Medicare fraud, errors, and abuse.

Here are some Medicare card scams that SMP is seeing:

The new Medicare cards don’t cost anything!
  • Telling Medicare beneficiaries they need to pay to obtain a new card. Fake charges range from $5 to $400.
  • A person claiming to be from a government agency says they need your bank account information to deposit funds into your Medicare account.
Fact: The new cards are free -- you do NOT need to pay for your new card and you don’t need to do anything to get it. Medicare will automatically mail your new card to you. In fact, you can sign up to get an email from Medicare to know when to expect your card in the mail.

You don’t need to get personal
You need to confirm or give personal information to get your new card.

Fact: You do NOT need to give any personal information to get your new card. The cards are mailed to the address you have on file with Social Security. You can update your address online, call 1-800-772-1213, or visit your local Social Security office.

No one will cancel your Medicare insurance
You need to provide your old Medicare card number to prevent your insurance from being interrupted while new cards are being mailed out.

Fact: Your Medicare coverage will not be interrupted or stopped because of your new card being mailed to you. 

For more information about Medicare card scams and other scams, contact Washington state's SMP, which is part of our Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) program, at 1-800-562-6900.