Mercury SIU Reveals All Time Craziest Claims

July 27, 2012

Think your job is tough? Try investigating arsonists, dirty law enforcement and opportunistic public transit riders seeking an illegal payday. That’s just another day at the office for the Mercury Insurance Special Investigation Unit (SIU).

Mercury founded their SIU in 1978, becoming the first insurance company to create an investigative department to combat insurance fraud. Stocked with seasoned detectives, the SIU uncovers thousands of false claims every year, saving Mercury policy holders millions of dollars.

“I’m continually amazed by some people’s brazen, foolish attempts to cheat the system,” said Dan Bales, Mercury’s national director of special investigations. “It’s imperative we expose unsubstantiated claims, because Mercury maintains low rates for their policy holders, in large part, by preventing phony payouts. Our SIU is the last line of defense.”

Below are two of Mercury’s most curious claims:

Let It Burn

The insured owned a $160,000 motor home and was having trouble selling it. Conveniently, it became the target of an arsonist – setting up the insured for a major payday.

Think that sounds a bit too good to be true? So did Mercury’s SIU, which immediately began to investigate.

The arsonist, who turned out to be the insured’s next door neighbor, was severely burned during the crime and quickly arrested. SIU investigators then obtained the name of a middleman, a 22-year friend of the insured, who hired the arsonist. Prior to an interrogation, he died in a suspicious motorcycle accident following a night of drinking with, you guessed it, the insured.

As SIU’s investigation continued, the arsonist was handed a 16-year prison sentence. While serving time, his recorded prison phone calls implicated the insured as the architect of the crime and the ploy was exposed. The insured received a hefty prison sentence and his claim was…denied.

A Shot in the Dark

An LAPD gang detective reported his expensive BMW was stolen from a Los Angeles-area strip mall. Police responded quickly, but became suspicious when the detective’s nephew arrived on scene seconds later to give him a ride home.

Doubts deepened when the detective suffered a mysterious gunshot wound shortly after the theft. He alleged the shooting and theft were gang retaliation for his work fighting gang crime in the city, but the real story turned out to be quite different.

LAPD and Mercury’s SIU were able to prove the detective orchestrated everything, including the shooting, in an attempt to defraud Mercury out of thousands of dollars. The investigation revealed the detective was more than $1 million in debt and he faked the carjacking to collect on his insurance policy. He then shot himself trying to bolster his disintegrating story, but later pled guilty to all charges and was sentenced to prison. His claim was denied.

“Insurance fraud is a major concern for all insurance companies,’ says Joanna Moore, Mercury’s chief claims officer. “It should be a big concern for policyholders, too, because it can contribute up to 30 percent of the premium cost.”

Source: Mercury Insurance

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