Tales From the Insurance Adjuster – Episode 1

A friend of mine is an insurance adjuster for a personal lines property casualty division of a major insurance company. This friend entertains me from time to time with tales that I just find amazing. The following was a report filed by a special investigator in their special investigations unit (SIU). This unit is used to investigate fraud cases. I found this report to be incredible and I wanted to share it with you. I’ve changed names and places to generic.

On November 12, 2002, our insd reported that while at the Mall, his Lexus 400 was stolen. He had been in the Mall for several hours and had receipts to support his time there. When he discovered that his vehicle was gone, he contacted security and they drove around for about 30 minutes just making sure that he didn’t park elsewhere. The insd then called his brother and had his brother drive to the mall to get him. When he got home, he reported the theft to the police and to the insurance company (insurance company A).

On November 15, 2002, the insd was notified by his local police department that his vehicle had been recovered. The vehicle had been burned. Interestingly, ISO showed that his brother had just had his car stolen in New Jersey just a few days before the insd’s loss. SIU for the brother’s insurance company (insurance company B) called insurance company A total loss department to notify them. I talked with insurance company B SIU about that claim and learned that the insd’s brother had submitted the exact same receipts for repair work and mag wheels as the insd. I checked computer databases and got an address history and family information for the insd. I then checked ISO for all names and addresses reported in computer databases. After about 8 hours looking through ISO, I had found literally dozens of claims originating in NJ, many of which tied back to addresses previously used by the insd and his family. Many of the names appeared to be variants of the insd’s name or family members.

It appeared that the insd’s were buying salvaged cars or retaining cars that were involved in accidents. They were then making claims for total losses with no witnesses and placing the already totaled vehicle at the scene. They were also claiming that these vehicles were stolen. Many were recovered burned. One, an insurance company A claim, was recovered in a canal in Florida before it was reported stolen. This vehicle had already been totaled twice and stolen twice. On claims involving BI, many of the operators were represented by the same attorney and doctor. Both of these people also utilized addresses that tied back to the insd. On a couple of cases, the attorney appeared to have bought the salvage. When I reviewed the insd’s cell phone records, I noticed that while he was in the mall, he placed a couple of calls to NJ, one of which was to this same attorney.

All of this information has been turned over to insurance company A’s NJ office and their fraud unit is currently handling that, since many of the claims involved were insurance company A claims.

As a conclusion to this claim, I obtained a copy of the impound record from the local PD. Although they didn’t notify the insd of the recovery until November 15, 2002, their records, and the towing company records confirmed that the vehicle was picked up, completely burned, on November 9, 2002, three days before he supposedly drove it to the mall.

The insd is now in the local county jail charged with insurance fraud, filing a false police report and false swearing.

Ten years ago the probability of catching something like this would have been very slim. Someone would have had to reported it for it to have happened. Today, though, with databases linked like they are it doesn’t take much tracking, as evident in this report, to catch these folks. I’m still amazed at the way these investigations come together.

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