Poor Economy Linked to Increased Insurance Frauds -Suspicious Car Fires up 27%!

The ongoing economic downturn has been linked to a raise in the number of possible cases of insurance fraud in the U.S, according to a new report by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). An analysis of "questionable claims" that were classified as possibly fraudulent and were submitted by the more than 1,000 NICB member insurance companies in the first quarter of 2009, show a significant increase in these type of claims over the first quarter of 2008.

Examples of what the insurance companies call as opportunistic fraud include car owners that have trouble making payments on a recently purchased vehicle who decides to destroy their car and then report it vandalized or stolen.

According to the findings of NICB report, in the first quarter of 2009, suspicious car fires were up 27 percent (!) over the same period in 2008 while owner give-ups, which is defined as vehicles that were reported stolen by their owners when the owner is in fact making a false theft report, increased 24 percent from a year ago.

A previous analysis by NICB released in October 2008 that focused at owner give-ups from 2004 through March 2008, showed a connection between the number of owner give-ups and the rising cost of gasoline during that period. NICB claims that a large number of the give-ups involved less fuel efficient large sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks.

"Desperate times sometimes cause people to take desperate measures," said Joe Wehrle, NICB's President and Chief Executive Officer. " "Some people think it is okay to cheat an insurance company, but the fact is, they are breaking the law, risking jail time, and causing everyone else to pay more for their insurance coverage," he added.