Fraud comes in all shapes and forms, from deliberately staged accidents to bogus auto theft claims. Manitoba Public Insurance relies on various methods to catch these fraudsters, ranging from good old-fashioned investigative skills to acting on tips from the general public.
Fraudulent and suspicious claims are handled by Manitoba Public Insurance’s Special Investigation Unit (SIU). The efforts of this special unit resulted in fraud savings last year of $8.2 million for Manitoban auto insurance rate payers. The SIU closed 2,100 investigations last year.
Anyone knowing someone who is involved in auto insurance fraud is encouraged to call the Manitoba Public Insurance TIPS Line: 204-985-8477 or toll-free 1-877-985-8477. All calls are anonymous.
No. 1: “Smile! You’re on Camera”
Thanks to the keen investigative skills of an SIU investigator, a fraudulent bodily injury claim was discovered, saving Manitoba Public Insurance and its ratepayers more than $15,000.
The pedestrian said he was hit by a car and injured ─ unable to work. The driver adamantly insisted there was no incident. With the two conflicting statements, the SIU investigator went to the scene and observed that several businesses had security cameras mounted on their buildings. After viewing footage from one of the cameras, the investigator was able to see the pedestrian approaching the parking lot. Clearly, there had been no collision between the vehicle and pedestrian.
A seasoned collision re-constructionist, who examined the footage and location, also confirmed there could not have been any contact between pedestrian and vehicle. The claim was subsequently denied.
No. 2: “Luxury Porsche Actually a Lemon”
Thanks to the cooperative relationship between the RCMP and Manitoba Public Insurance, a fraudulent auto theft claim of more than $20,000 was denied.
The owner of a Porsche told his adjuster that the vehicle had been stolen from his apartment block parking lot in Winnipeg. A theft claim was opened. The story quickly unravelled after the RCMP notified Manitoba Public Insurance that a badly damaged/vandalized Porsche had been located in a rural area ─ a full day before the owner claimed his car had been stolen.
During examination of the Porsche, it was discovered that the vehicle was in need of major mechanical repairs, which would have cost the owner several thousand dollars. Based on the police information and pre-existing mechanical condition of the vehicle, the theft claim was denied.
No. 3: “Wannabe Manitoban”
All Manitoba residents are entitled to benefits under the Personal Injury Protection Plan (PIPP). Outside of the province, many insurance plans are structured differently and don’t always provide the robust coverage available under Manitoba’s no-fault injury compensation plan. Because of this, some individuals may try to claim they are Manitoba residents in order to receive PIPP benefits.
A man was severely injured in the United States after being involved in a crash. His family claimed he had been visiting the U.S. and opened an injury claim with Manitoba Public Insurance. While processing the claim, the case manager received information from a number of agencies which confirmed the man had not lived in Manitoba for several years, making him ineligible to for PIPP benefits.
Presented with this information, the man’s family withdrew their claim. Savings were estimated to be in excess of $500,000.
No. 4: “Case of a Guilty Conscience”
After a number of unusual details came to surface, a father and son were asked to give a statement to an SIU investigator about the theft of a pick-up truck. During the interview the son made a surprising offer: to write a promissory note to Manitoba Public Insurance for nearly $11,000 (damage costs). The son then declined to discuss his financial generosity.
However, the facts spoke volumes: the father, who was the registered owner, stated the truck had been stolen from his residence. One day after the reported theft, the same truck rear-ended another vehicle and fled the scene with several people witnessing the crash.
No. 5: “The Accident That Wasn’t”
Two vehicles collide and are badly damaged. This happens every day in Manitoba. But, a number of unusual details surfaced during the investigation of this specific collision. It was discovered these two individuals knew each other and their vehicles were both in poor running condition. A seasoned traffic re-constructionist testified that this crash was no accident, but a staged collision.
One driver pleaded guilty to fraud over $5,000. He received a two-year suspended sentence with supervised probation, 100 hours of community service work and a restitution order of $17,000 to repay Manitoba Public Insurance.
The second driver, who was also charged with fraud over $5,000, did not appear in court. A warrant for his arrest has since been issued.