There Must be a Special Unit of Insurance Fraud Prosecutors in the Offices of the Attorneys General
The legislatures of the various states, the United States Congress, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, The National Insurance Crime Bureau and insurance industry groups have finally decided that the war against insurance fraud is worth fighting. Until the states, the local police agencies, the district attorneys, the United States Attorneys, and the Attorneys General of the various states join in the battle it will be fought to a stalemate. The insurance industry cannot successfully fight insurance fraud alone.
Insurance industry sources estimate insurance fraud from lows of $80,000,000,000 ($80 billion) a year to highs of $300,000,000,000 ($300 billion) a year. Regardless of which, if any, estimate is accurate the amount of money going to insurance criminals is staggering and approaches no less than 3% to 10% of premium collected.
Every two weeks Zalma’s Insurance Fraud Letter publishes lists of convictions. The major volume of such convictions deals with Medicare and Medicaid fraud. Basic property and casualty fraud convictions are seldom described except when the perpetrator confesses or pleads guilty. Few go to trial.
Insurance fraud is not a local problem. It is a depletion of the wealth of the entire country. The lawyer for the Department of Insurance of each state is the State Attorney General. A special unit could be established in the office of the Attorney General, funded with the monies taken from the insurance industry to support the war against insurance fraud. This unit should be given a simple mandate:
- File and prosecute every insurance fraud brought to the unit by the Fraud Division that has a better than 50% chance of success.
- The unit should not concentrate its efforts on major insurance frauds. Those can best be prosecuted by major fraud units already existing in the District Attorney’s offices and in offices of the US Attorney.
The state’s unit should concentrate on prosecuting every-day insurance fraud, the frauds of opportunity that take 90% of the money paid to fraud perpetrators, in the range of $5,000 to $50,000. Single counts should be prosecuted. When prosecutors file multiple charges against individual defendants the case becomes a major action requiring a great deal of time to prosecute. Judges and juries do not want to be involved in a prosecution that takes months to prosecute. If there are multiple counts available, the prosecutor should charge only the one where the evidence of fraud is overwhelming. If the jury finds for the defendant the prosecutor can charge the next count continuously until the statute of limitation runs. If all available are charged in one case the prosecutor will offend the judge and jury and the defendant will get mercy from the jury. Overcharging prosecution is as bad as not charging at all.
© 2020 – Barry Zalma
Barry Zalma, Esq., CFE, now limits his practice to service as an insurance consultant specializing in insurance coverage, insurance claims handling, insurance bad faith and insurance fraud almost equally for insurers and policyholders. He also serves as an arbitrator or mediator for insurance related disputes. He practiced law in California for more than 44 years as an insurance coverage and claims handling lawyer and more than 52 years in the insurance business. He is available at http://www.zalma.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mr. Zalma is the first recipient of the first annual Claims Magazine/ACE Legend Award.
Over the last 52 years Barry Zalma has dedicated his life to insurance, insurance claims and the need to defeat insurance fraud. He has created the following library of books and other materials to make it possible for insurers and their claims staff to become insurance claims professionals.
Read posts from Barry Zalma at https://parler.com/profile/Zalma/posts
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