Combatting insurance fraud is no easy feat. The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud estimates that at least $80 Billion is stolen yearly through insurance fraud, costing the average household an estimated $1,000 extra in insurance premiums each year to make up for that fraud. Maryland Auto‘s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) investigates potentially fraudulent claims and works with local law enforcement agencies to prosecute wrongdoers. Maryland Auto policyholders assisting with the investigation of any claims investigated help the SIU determine whether a claim is legitimate or fraudulent.
In a recent loss, the policyholder filed a comprehensive/theft claim stating that their insured vehicle was stolen from a convenience store parking lot.
This alleged theft occurred on a chilly day in the middle of winter. In their statement, the policyholder claimed that they were ill and went to a convenience store to pick up cold medicine. They stated that they left their parked car running in the convenience store parking lot, to keep the inside warm. While in the store, the policyholder was approached by a customer who said she had just witnessed the insured vehicle taken by two men.
At the time of the theft, our policyholder had the only transponder key to the car with them, inside the store.
The police were called to the scene and indicated on their report that they viewed surveillance footage from the store. The footage showed two unknown offenders arriving at the convenience store parking lot in a stolen SUV, then leaving the store in the policyholder’s car.
Maryland Auto’s SIU investigated the claim and found that the insured vehicle was detected on a license plate reader at an apartment complex during the overnight hours of the theft date, apparently undamaged. Maryland Auto cross-referenced the apartment complex’s known residents against our policyholder’s relatives and associates and did not find any matches or concerns.
Another license plate reader detection of the car was recorded several months later at a nearby shopping center. The vehicle appeared undamaged during this reading, as well.
As part of the investigation, an Examination Under Oath (EUO) of the policyholder was conducted. He admitted that he was behind on payments for the loan for the insured vehicle. However, vehicle repossession by the lienholder was ruled out. The policyholder also stated that they realized that they made a foolish mistake leaving the car running and unlocked in the parking lot when they ran into the convenience store. They also denied knowing anyone who resided at the apartment complex where the vehicle was seen.
Upon completion of the EUO, Maryland Auto’s SIU determined that the policyholder was not engaged in potential fraud.
Shortly after the EUO, the policyholder called Maryland Auto, advising that they’d spotted their stolen vehicle, still with the original license plates. The adjuster advised the policyholder to contact the police to allow them to handle the recovery. The policyholder followed the advice and the police recovered the vehicle later that evening.
At this time, the offenders have not been identified and no charges have been filed. Maryland Auto is currently working with the policyholder to determine if there are any vehicle damages. A total loss theft settlement would have been approximately $18,000, had the vehicle not been recovered. We have the policyholder to thank for continuing to stay vigilant and assisting in the recovery of their car.
While this claim initially showed indicators of potential fraud, it turned out to be a legitimate theft claim, and an honest mistake by the policyholder. Our SIU associates investigate claims that appear suspicious to avoid paying on fraudulent claims, but will make payments for legitimate ones.