Florida Governor Witnesses Examples of Insurance Fraud

February 17, 2012

Cars collided in full view of Florida’s highest ranking officials at the Pat Thomas Law Enforcement Academy, showcasing the dangerous crimes of insurance fraud through staged accidents.

Florida continues to lead the nation in staged accidents and abuse of the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) system. The training exercise put on by the Florida Highway Patrol was done in an effort to educate Floridians on the problem of staged accident fraud.

“Viewing how easy it is to fake an auto accident is sickening,” Governor Rick Scott said at a news conference after the demonstrations. “If there was any shred of doubt left in any legislator’s mind, this exercise has surely demonstrated beyond a doubt that PIP reform is critical to protect Florida drivers from these dangerous staged car accidents and from rate increases caused by fraud.”

The Florida Highway Patrol and the Coalition to ‘Put the Brakes on Accident Fraud’ hosted the event that involved three separate types of fraud. The crashes demonstrated – ‘Drive Down,’ ‘Panic Stop,’ and the ‘Swoop and Squat’ – are the most widely recognized accidents used by criminal networks to fraudulently bill insurance companies with claims for non-existent injuries. Such crimes drive up the cost of insurance for all Florida drivers.

“It defies logic that as automobile accidents have decreased by eight percent over the past five years, auto insurance rates have skyrocketed for Florida families—from 80 percent in Tampa and Miami to nearly 50 percent in Jacksonville and Destin,” said Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater. “One thing is clear: Florida’s personal injury protection system is surrounded by sharks looking to make their money off the backs of consumers, and by taking decisive action this session to drive down costs, we can protect Florida insurance consumers from being preyed upon.”

Florida Highway Patrol Colonel David Brierton also vowed to provide training to his troopers across the state in an effort to reduce or eliminate traffic crash fraud.

“This is a new generation of organized crime and we need to work together to develop a solution,” said Col. Brierton. “Every day that passes is another day law enforcement officers across the state will have to handle fraudulent accident reports and another day the wallets of Floridians are hit with the ever-increasing costs of abuse from accident fraud.”

Special agents from the National Insurance Crime Bureau and a representative from the Insurance Information Institute were also in attendance. The event was another step by the Coalition to ‘Put the Brakes on Accident Fraud’ to help raise awareness to the issue of fraud and abuse in Florida’s PIP system and encourage meaningful reform in the current legislative session.

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