Mass. Antifraud Campaign Moves into Chelsea, the 8th Town Targeted

December 29, 2005

State and local public and insurance industry officials brought their united antifraud effort to Chelsea this week, hoping to reduce insurance claims and staged accidents.

The Chelsea task force is the eighth that is modeled after the efforts in Lawrence that began in 2003 and have successfully lowered the claims rates there. Other task forces have been formed in Boston, Brockton, Randolph, Lowell, Lynn and Springfield/Holyoke.

The task force is a joint effort by the Insurance Fraud Bureau of Massachusetts, Chelsea police, the Suffolk district attorney’s office and the state attorney general.

Chelsea was chosen for the crackdown because of its high auto insurance claims rate, which investigators suspect involves drivers who are staging accidents so they can file insurance claims and receive payments for injuries. Last year, 62 people claimed injuries for every 100 accidents in Chelsea, compared with a statewide rate of 36 such claims for every 100 collisions.

Insurers say a crackdown in Lawrence reduced claims there by $28.7 million in 2004 compared to 2003. The decline contributed to a claims reduction behind the recent 8.7 percent cut in auto insurance rates.

As part of the Chelsea campaign, officials have erected a large billboard in the community to publicize a telephone hot line and urge residents to call to report insurance fraud.

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