Incidents of insurance fraud cost Manitoba ratepayers approximately $50 a year, the public insurer said in a release issued last week. According to MPI chief operations officer Marnie Kacher, nearly 3,000 claims investigations were closed in 2022, leading to savings of over $14 million.
MPI releases an annual list of unique insurance fraud cases uncovered by its Special Investigations Unit (SIU) to raise awareness of the additional costs of these claims. The list is compiled based on the estimated financial savings to MPI’s ratepayers and the techniques used to confirm fraudulent actions and statements.
“Our SIU team works tirelessly to investigate suspicious claims in order to ensure the right claims are paid and for the right amount,” said Kacher.
The following are MPI’s top five fraudulent auto insurance claims of 2022. The discovery of these incidents saved MPI nearly half a million dollars, according to last week’s release.
A crash staged by friends
A driver claimed they found their vehicle damaged by a semi-truck parked nearby, telling MPI that the other driver had already reported the incident and accepted liability for the crash.
Investigations conducted by MPI’s SIU team found that the two drivers knew each other prior to the crash and often interacted publicly on social media.
Furthermore, a search of the damaged vehicle also revealed jugs of coolant and oil in the back seat.
Following a full inspection, investigators determined that the vehicle’s engine had seized due to lack of oil, with repairs anticipated to cost $45,000.
The second driver later admitted to hitting the damaged vehicle with a rented moving truck. The owner also admitted to staging the crash.
Denying the claim saved MPI more than $50,000, the release said.
An individual was deemed eligible to receive income replacement benefits and personal care assistance after their vehicle was hit when another driver changed lanes.
The injured driver claimed they had a concussion, headaches, dizziness, back, as well as knee and neck pain, and an ankle injury. These injuries were said to be so severe that they couldn’t get out of bed, open water bottles, lift a pen, and had limited mobility due to balance issues, nausea, and full-body pain.
However, MPI’s investigation showed this person was far more active than they claimed to be, with surveillance revealing that they were able to drive a motorcycle on multiple occasions, as well as walk long distances, shop for hours at several stores and lift bags of groceries.
Following this investigation, MPI informed the driver that their benefits would be terminated, allowing the public insurer to save over $300,000.
Detergent container unveils false theft report
A policyholder reported that their vehicle had been stolen from their home, signing a sworn statement to an MPI adjuster that claimed the stolen vehicle was destroyed by fire.
When the burned car was found, investigators found a plastic container used to hold laundry detergent pods nearby.
Further investigation by law enforcement and SIU revealed that the claimant and the car were spotted earlier in the day at a gas station, where they were filling a similar detergent container with gasoline.
Presented with the evidence, the individual admitted the fire was an accident and that their car had not been stolen.
MPI denied the claim due to the policyholder’s false statement, saving around $24,400.
Conflicting reports of a missing key
A person filed a theft claim and told MPI their SUV was stolen from their workplace during an overnight shift.
Reporting the incident to the police, the individual said they misplaced one set of keys and were in possession of the only other set. However, in their claim to MPI, they said they were in possession of both sets of keys at the time that the theft took place.
The SUV was later found and towed to the MPI compound. An examination by the technicians there revealed that the installed immobilizer, which protects the vehicle from being accessed without a programmed key, was still operational and functioning properly. Further investigation also found that the vehicle ignition was not damaged and had not been manipulated.
MPI denied the claim and saved over $38,000 based on findings that the customer had issued conflicting reports and that they were actually in possession of both sets of keys.
A claim made after driving under the influence
Responding to a single-vehicle rollover, law enforcement found three heavily intoxicated people outside a heavily damaged truck with all airbags deployed. As there were no witnesses, there was no way to determine who was driving the truck. However, one was found to be more suspicious than others because the truck was registered in the name of their spouse.
The police arrested one person and released them the next day without being charged. A few days later, this same person filed a single-vehicle collision claim with MPI, indicating they had hit a rut and lost control of the vehicle. They also claimed that they were alone in the truck when the accident occurred and that they were sober within the past 24 hours.
MPI’s SIU team later learned that police had attended the scene of the crash. The claim was then denied due to the false statement that was provided, allowing MPI to save around $62,000.