How Insurance Fraud Destroyed a Family

Insurance Fraud by Insurance Professionals

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Bill and Libby were very successful insurance brokers. From their offices in Walnut Creek, California, the Bill and Libby Agency generated $100 million in premium volume for fourteen different insurers with whom they held an agency appointment. They were one of the biggest retail insurance agencies in northern California.

Success brought the good life. They owned a six thousand five hundred square foot mini-mansion in the hills of Oakland. They built the house over a lot purchased from a victim of the great Oakland Hills fire storm. Bill and Libby furnished the house with antiques and antique replicas. On every wall Libby hung her collection of ceramic plates and fine art prints. On every shelf sat Lladro sculptures, Hummel figurines and limited-edition sculptures and plates depicting English country scenes. Their daughter, Sassy, had a glass display case in her bedroom with a collection of more than 200 antique or collectible dolls.

The home was destroyed by fire. After minimal investigation established that fraud might have been attempted, the already six inches thick with invoices and estimates of repair costs were photocopied and delivered to L.G.L. Eagle. Eagle, appeared to be the twin brother of Gabby Hayes — with teeth was an effective and experienced insurance lawyer.

After submitting to an examination under oath Libby corrected her denials to an admission of fraud because her lawyer did not want her prosecuted for perjury.

Eagle reviewed the items for which Bill and Libby returned the money in detail. He found that some items he knew were fraudulent were not admitted to being fraudulent while some items he thought were legitimate were admitted to be false. He advised Secure and Stable to cash the check since the fraud had not been cured.

Libby continued to lie to herself and her husband in an attempt to reduce her wrongdoing. He recommended that the entire claim be denied, that the policy be declared void for fraud, and that the full amount paid on the void policy be demanded. If payment was not made instantly he further recommended that Secure and Stable file a suit in U.S. District Court under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) demanding three times the amount paid as punishment.

Secure and Stable could not allow insurance professionals who attempted to defraud their own insurer to profit from a crime against their profession.

A business built on the idea of Uberrima fides (utmost good faith) will not do business with people who have proven they cannot be trusted.

© 2022 – 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 practiced law in California for more than 44 years as an insurance coverage and claims handling lawyer and more than 54 years in the insurance business.

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