As suspected, the current economy seems to be inspiring more fraud across the country. A recent news report from California indicates that automobile insurance fraud is on the rise, to include auto arson and auto theft fraud. Cases of suspected arson increased by 25 percent in 2008 as compared to 2007. Read article here.
Many see insurance fraud as a white-collar crime, but that is not always the case. There are many motivating factors to insurance fraud, with the underlying motivation being unfair gain. The Polk-Lepson Research Group is a Market Research & Analysis firm in York, PA and they conducted a study in 2002 and identified people most likely to commit insurance fraud:
-People that saw fraudulent actions as done for "monetary necessity."
-People who consider themselves as "social victims."
-Individuals who feel personally victimized and who are motivated by "anger."
-Groups characterized as “economic sophisticates,” people who seek to obtain and maintain wealth and who view fraudulent behavior as a calculated risk.
The Pennsylvania Insurance Fraud Prevention Authority (IFPA) commissioned this study and they found that about 58 percent of Pennsylvanians feel that insurance fraud was acceptable under some circumstances. It should also be noted however that more than half of Pennsylvanians did also agree that insurance fraud should be discouraged.
Although their study did show that people could rationalize a need for insurance fraud, 72.4 percent of those questioned did agree that the perpetrators of insurance fraud should be prosecuted for lying and falsifying information. Additionally, 90.6 percent of those questioned did also indicate that if insurance companies were to actively pursue fraud cases, then fraud incidents would likely go down.
Rationalizing crimes is one way that criminals motivate themselves to break the law. Insurance companies are easy targets in this arena due to negative publicity received in the event of major catastrophes such as Katrina. However, the victims of insurance fraud are not just the insurance companies, but also their customers. An insurance company has to make up every dollar they lose to fraud, or spend in fighting fraud by charging their customer a higher premium.