Crime, like a pandemic, never sleeps. It is persistent, widespread and may appear under control only to rear up without warning to cause more pain.
Insurance fraud is not an eye-popping crime—at first blush. Rarely does it capture a headline, yet it ranks among the costliest of crimes in terms of direct monetary loss. With the nation rightly focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to safely emerge from stay-at-home orders and self-quarantine, insurance fraudsters and car thieves have continued targeting victims and enriching themselves with stolen money that ultimately will be replaced through higher premiums.
A number of state fraud bureaus and vehicle theft prevention authorities were created to investigate and prosecute insurance fraud. They obtain their funding solely from surcharges and assessments paid by insurance companies on every policy they write. In other words, they do not rely on taxes.
Naturally, tax revenue derived from state, local, and national economic activity has been severely reduced, causing similar reductions in services normally funded by those taxes.
Meanwhile, the funds collected from insurance policy surcharges and fees—dedicated to funding some fraud bureaus and all vehicle theft prevention authorities—are attractive to governors desperately trying to provide critical services with any available resources.
We recognize that we are living during an unprecedented event where a natural pandemic that has killed over 100,000 people in the U.S. alone has also forced the near total shut down of the world’s greatest economy.
However, we would still urge elected officials to dedicate resources for the purposes they were collected.
The NICB understands why these dedicated funds are attractive for use elsewhere. We would also urge that in the states where they have been diverted, governors replenish them as soon as possible so that we all can remain effectively engaged in the fight against insurance fraud and vehicle crime.