January is Crime Stoppers Month, and while traditionally you're probably thinking of crimes such as assaults, robbery, or drug offenses, at Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), the number-one crime is insurance fraud.
KPMG conservatively estimates auto insurance fraud in Ontario is as high as $1.6 billion annually. Staged collisions and abuse and overuse of insurance benefits puts innocent lives at risk, wastes public resources, and takes money away from honest policyholders, which contributes to skyrocketing auto insurance premiums. In other words, when they cheat you pay.
When fraudsters take advantage of the system, legitimate insurance claims may be delayed for people in real need. The result is that all claimants have to go through the same tough system aimed at fraud artists and the extra costs for insurers result in higher insurance costs for everyone.
Ontario's insurance industry, which has been hit the hardest, has initiated increased action on auto-related fraud. IBC recently teamed up with the Ontario Association of Crime Stoppers to provide consumers with another avenue to submit their tips about suspected insurance fraud and vehicle theft. IBC and Crime Stoppers work together so that anonymous tips to the organization will be sent to police and to IBC's Investigative Services as a means of striking a further blow at those who abuse the insurance system.
"Crime Stoppers works and is an effective tool for citizens to report suspected crime. Partnerships with Crime Stoppers and other key stakeholders in law enforcement are essential to beating increasingly sophisticated insurance crime," says Rick Dubin, vice-president of investigative services at IBC.
If you suspect insurance-related fraud or crime, call the long established hotline number 1-800-222-TIPS, which is well known and universal in all of North America. Crime Stoppers can also take secure and anonymous tips online at www.tipsubmit.com
"IBC's partnership with Crime Stoppers will help streamline the crime reporting process to make it even easier for citizens to make the call. We believe that raising awareness and encouraging people to take the time to report insurance crime will significantly improve the detection and conviction of fraudsters," Dubin adds.
In addition to Crime Stoppers, you can still report suspected insurance fraud to www.ibc.ca or call IBC's anonymous TIPS line (1-877-IBC TIPS).