NICB Urges Illinois Governor to Sign Measure Aimed at Towing Fraud

vintage-tow-wrecker-pick-up-truck_G1Q8XPUO_LThe National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) urges Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner to sign into law Senate Bill 2261 to help protect consumers from the rampant towing fraud that has long plagued the state.

The bill, which has passed both the House and Senate, was supported by NICB, the Illinois Insurance Association and others.

If signed by the Governor, it would create a Statewide Relocation Towing Licensure Commission — a task force that will work over the next year to fully examine the towing laws in the state and report back to the legislature. The commission would have representation from the auto insurance industry in addition to state lawmakers, the towing industry and law enforcement.

In addition SB 2261:

  • Makes it a class 4 felony for a tower to illegally solicit business at an accident scene; and
  • Allows a vehicle owner or the owner’s insurer to file suit against a tower that violates the accident scene solicitation section, including recovery of all attorney fees and court costs.

“This is a major step forward as we attempt to put limitations on the rogue tow operators that have plagued many areas of the state, especially the Chicago area,” said NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle. “Motorists should not be subject to predatory towing practices that result in outrageous charges and tactics, such as holding cars hostage in salvage yards until the owner or their insurance company pay what amounts to a ransom to get the vehicle returned.”

Anyone with information concerning insurance fraud or vehicle theft can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 800-TEL-NICB (800-835-6422), texting keyword “fraud” to TIP411 (847411) or submitting a form on our website. Or, download the NICB Fraud Tips app on your iPhone or Android device.

Cargo Theft Brought to Alabama Legislature

The Alabama legislature is considering a bill that would create a specific offense for cargo theft. Senate Bill 127 recognizes the impact that cargo theft has across the entire socio-economic spectrum.

cargo-theft1Cargo theft is a major national crime problem which adds to the cost of merchandise, food and transportation. Stolen food and pharmaceuticals pose a real health hazard and these commodities, along with electronics, continue to be the favorite target among cargo thieves.

It’s not hard to imagine the health implications for innocent consumers who unknowingly buy stolen food or drugs, which have been improperly stored or contaminated as they moved through the illicit commerce stream, believing that they are getting safe and secure products.

NICB produced a public service announcement describing the impact of cargo theft and it has been airing on radio and television stations across the nation. It is available here

NICB urges the Alabama legislature to pass SB 127 and provide law enforcement and prosecutors with a valuable tool in the fight against cargo theft. 

Mississippi Legislature Tackles Cargo Theft

The Mississippi legislature is considering a bill that would create a specific offense for cargo theft. House Bill 595, introduced by Representative Steve Massengill (R-District 13), recognizes the impact that cargo theft has across the entire socio-economic spectrum.

cargo-theftCargo theft is a major national crime problem which adds to the cost of merchandise, food and transportation. Stolen food and pharmaceuticals pose a real health hazard and these commodities, along with electronics, continue to be the favorite target among cargo thieves.

It’s not hard to imagine the health implications for innocent consumers who unknowingly buy stolen food or drugs, which have been improperly stored or contaminated as they moved through the illicit commerce stream, believing that they are getting safe and secure products.

NICB produced a public service announcement describing the impact of cargo theft and it has been airing on radio and television stations across the nation. It is available here.

NICB urges the Mississippi legislature to pass HB 595 and provide law enforcement and prosecutors with a valuable tool in the fight against cargo theft.

Focusing on Fraud in South Carolina

Organized fraud rings are active in South Carolina, taking advantage of the state’s lack of resources to investigate and prosecute insurance fraud.That was the message that some 150 law enforcement personnel, insurance industry representatives and elected officials heard at the annual insurance fraud summit in Greenville this week.

The summit, organized by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) and the South Carolina Insurance News Service (SCINS), focused on the need for additional resources and legislative remedies to fight the growing insurance crime problem in the state. To learn more, watch this video.

Citing NICB statistics that show South Carolina ranked seventh in the nation in suspected staged accidents, Attorney General Alan Wilson urged the passage of HB 4339 to help stem the problem.

“Fraud and crime, like water, follow the path of least resistance,” said Wilson. ”I believe it is incumbent on us this year as we move forward to try to direct some more resources and legislation toward combatting insurance fraud.”

South Carolina currently allocates $200,000 a year in funds for investigation and prosecution of insurance fraud, which is the lowest of all 50 states.

NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle told the audience that in addition to staged accidents, other fraud issues that are plaguing the state include suspect medical clinics and pill mills, as well as windshield glass repair fraud.

“The proceeds that organized criminal rings haul in from insurance fraud often go to fund other criminal activities,” said Wehrle. “As we’ve seen in other states where we’ve held these summits in recent years, a few changes in the law and increased support for investigation and prosecution of these crimes sends a message to the criminals that this is no longer a place to do business.”

Anyone with information concerning insurance fraud or vehicle theft can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 800-TEL-NICB (800-835-6422), texting keyword “fraud” to TIP411 (847411) or submitting a form on our website. Or, download the NICB Fraud Tips app on your iPhone or Android device.

About the National Insurance Crime Bureau: Headquartered in Des Plaines, Ill., the NICB is the nation’s leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to preventing, detecting and defeating insurance fraud and vehicle theft through data analytics, investigations, training, legislative advocacy and public awareness. The NICB is supported by more than 1,100 property and casualty insurance companies and self-insured organizations. NICB member companies wrote over $395 billion in insurance premiums in 2014, or more than 78 percent of the nation’s property/casualty insurance. That includes more than 93 percent ($176 billion) of the nation’s personal auto insurance. To learn more visit www.nicb.org.

 

 

Claims Journal Podcast – Anti-Fraud Legislation Mid-Year Review

Podcast - Tim LynchNICB Government Affairs Director Tim Lynch discusses the status of pending anti-fraud legislation this year and describes the positive results seen in the states of Colorado, Georgia and Minnesota.

Listen to the podcast.

For more information on NICB’s Government Affairs department, please visit us online.

Florida’s No-Fault Reform: Trending in the Right Direction

After Leading the Nation with Suspicious PIP Claims, Florida Sees a Decline

Florida PIP ReformThe National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has released a new report revealing a decline in Florida’s personal injury protection (PIP) questionable claims (QCs). In 2013, Florida PIP QCs declined by 7.6 percent from 2012. Meanwhile, for the period 2010 through 2013, Florida staged accident QCs decreased by 61.82 percent.

Tighter legislation, enhanced public awareness and a coordinated law enforcement response appear to be having the intended effect on PIP fraud in Florida.

We are encouraged by the decline in questionable claims that we’ve seen recently, but by no means are we declaring victory in Florida,” said NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle. “Florida remains a hotbed for fraudulent activity, and we can’t afford to ease up for a moment in our fight against those who would abuse the system and burden Florida consumers.”

Visit the NICB Newsroom to read the full press release.

NICB Urges Minnesota Lawmakers to Turn Up the Heat on Insurance Fraud

Proposed legislation is essential tool for fighting no-fault crime

MinnesotaEffortsDES PLAINES, Ill., Feb. 13, 2014 — At a news conference at the Minnesota Capitol Thursday, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) expressed its strong support for the efforts of the Senate Commerce Committee’s Working Group on Insurance Fraud. The group has spent the last nine months taking testimony about insurance fraud’s impact on the state and is introducing a legislative package to combat the problem.

The reform efforts are an outgrowth of the 2012 Insurance Fraud Summit sponsored by the NICB and the Insurance Federation of Minnesota, which highlighted the increases in no-fault auto insurance fraud and other insurance fraud schemes in the state over the past few years.

Read the full press here.

For video highlights of the news conference, click here.

Representatives Allege Kickback Schemes and Fraud are Growing Trend under Minnesota’s No-Fault Insurance System

StopFraudMN

The outcome of a pending lawsuit in Minnesota may serve as a catalyst for reform for the state’s current no-fault law. In the upcoming litigation that will likely draw additional attention and increase awareness of flaws within the existing system, Illinois Farmers Insurance and its subsidiaries filed a $1.9 million lawsuit against Mobile Diagnostic Imaging, Inc. (MDI), its owner, and 46 chiropractors. The diagnostic imaging company and the chiropractors are allegedly engaging in an elaborate kickback scheme to defraud the state of Minnesota’s no-fault insurance system. Under the state’s current system, the law requires insurance companies to pay a minimum of $20,000 for medical expenses, regardless of who is at fault in an auto accident.

While the goal may have been to provide personal injury protection for Minnesota motorists, according to local insurance representatives, there appears to be a growing trend in kickback schemes and staged accidents to commit fraud by taking advantage of the state’s no-fault law.

The lawsuit filed against MDI alleges that the company’s owner, Michael Appleman, paid 46 chiropractors kickbacks for ordering MRIs, many of which may not have been medically necessary. It is further alleged that MDI conducted its scans in a self-sufficient MRI trailer and that $221,800 in kickbacks were paid to the chiropractors between January and November of 2011.

Mark Kulda, a vice president of public affairs for the insurance federation, was quoted in the Star Tribune article regarding the case, “Today’s filing of a federal lawsuit reaffirms what our industry has been saying for several years now – that insurance fraud is rampant in Minnesota.”

NICB’s Government Affairs department will be closely following the case as it progresses. As the legislative advocacy arm of the organization, the team promotes statutes, regulations and policies at all levels of government to help serve member interests in preventing, detecting and defeating insurance fraud and vehicle theft.

TimContact3Tim Lynch, a director of government affairs at NICB, says “Unfortunately, Minnesota’s no fault system has been hijacked by some dishonest medical providers, paid intermediaries and unscrupulous attorneys that have turned the system into their own personal treasury. NICB is actively working with the Minnesota Senate Working Group on Insurance Fraud to pursue some anti-fraud firewalls and controls to the current system.”

To join the conversation on stopping fraud in Minnesota, check out the Stop Fraud MN Facebook page. For additional information on NICB, visit us online at www.nicb.org. To contact Tim Lynch, email him at tlynch@nicb.org.

NICB’s Legislative Efforts for Licensing and Regulating Roofing Contractors

NICB’s legislative advocacy team leads the property/casualty industry’s anti-fraud and vehicle theft legislative and regulatory agenda. Our legislative efforts help bring about tangible solutions to protect the American public from potential scams and unfair practices. An example of this is seen in our current efforts in the licensing and regulation of roofing contractors.

The NICB supports legislation that would license and regulate roofing contractors in the state of Texas.  This year, two bills have been introduced –HB 888 and SB 311.  If passed, Texas would establish a roofing contractors’ advisory board under the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation.  The new law would establish license requirements; require criminal history background checks; and a public accessible license holder database.  More importantly, the law would prohibit rebating of any applicable insurance deductible and prohibit a roofing contractor from acting as a public insurance adjuster.        

Currently under Texas law, there is no authorized agency to assure consumer protections from those roofing contractors who receive pay for services never rendered, or deliberately cause damage to a structure.

NICB proposed the following recommendations:

  1. Require basic registration and licensing of roofing contractors in the state of Texas. 
  2. Require a written and signed contract between property owner and the roofing contractor which must include: scope of work and materials, cost of work and materials, and approximate dates of services.
  3. Roofing contractors must provide contact information, including a physical address.
  4. Roofing contractors must provide identification of the contractor’s surety and liability coverage insurer and their contact information.
  5. Roofing contractors must establish and provide notice of their policy regarding cancellation of a contract and refunding of any deposit.
  6. Roofing contractors must allow the property owner to rescind the contract and obtain a full refund within 72 hours of entering the contract.
  7. Roofing contractors cannot pay, waive, or rebate the property owner’s insurance deductible.
  8. Roofing contractors must hold in trust any payment until the contractor has delivered roofing materials to the jobsite or has performed a majority of the roofing work. 

NICB feels a roofing contractor should not act directly or indirectly as a public adjuster or act on the behalf of an insured to negotiate or affect the settlement of an insurance claim.  However, this does not mean that a roofing contractor should not discuss the scope of work with an insurer or insured.
 
While the significance of what happens in the state of Texas may not be readily apparent to those living in other states, we consider the whole picture. We all pay the cost for insurance fraud. Change in one state opens the door to effectively bring about change in others. To date, we have been successful in getting similar legislation passed in other states.