According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the number of intentional Florida car accidents is on the rise as more people try to commit insurance fraud. The National Insurance Crime Bureau reported earlier this year that intentional Florida car accidents jumped to 1, 999, an increase of 58%, in 2009. In Tampa, Florida, alone, staged Florida car accidents quadrupled, up to 487 incidents.
In the past, South Florida cities such as Miami tended to have the highest rates of accidental car accidents in Florida, but now Tampa appears to be in the lead as fraudsters target that area. In many fraud cases, motorists deliberately get into single-vehicle crashes in order to make fake medical claims. However, in other cases, motorists intentionally bump into another vehicle in order to make claims against the other driver’s insurance company. In these cases, the targeted driver is falsely accused of causing the accident and faces increased insurance premiums through no fault of their own. In some cases, these staged Florida car accidents can even cause real injuries to the targeted driver.
Staged car accidents and insurance fraud are a serious problem in Florida. According to the insurance industry, staged accidents cost the industry between $4.8 billion to $6.8 billion in losses in 2007 alone. These industry losses affect everyone, as they translated into higher premiums for all Florida drivers. Currently, the industry is trying to target suspected cases of insurance fraud. They are also trying to target doctors who handle high numbers of fraudulent claims.
In a review of twelve no-fault states, Florida had the highest rate for personal injury insurance fraud. Between 2008 and 2009, the number of suspected fraudulent claims increased by 15% in Florida. In many cases, insurance companies are investigating suspicious claims by hiring private investigators and other professionals. Unfortunately, this also raises the cost of insurance and can slow processing of legitimate claims.
According to many experts, a shaky economy in the state may be contributing to insurance fraud as well. In May, Florida’s unemployment rate (11.7%) was higher than the national average (9.7%). Desperation may push some to insurance fraud, experts claim, especially since Florida unemployment is the worst it has been in some years.