One Type of Auto Insurance Fraud Often Goes Undetected

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  • These days, the rising cost of auto insurance has become a serious point of concern for millions of drivers nationwide, but one of the biggest factors driving those increases is largely outside their control. Auto insurance fraud is also a major and increasingly costly problem for insurance companies, and one specific type of this kind of crime could be detrimental to their bottom lines. What all of this means for insurance agents, meanwhile, is clear: They’ll probably have to do a little bit more to help people understand why rates are going up even if their personal driving habits and history has not changed.

    One of the more common but less noticeable types of insurance fraud involves consumers registering their cars in one place but keeping and primarily operating them in another, according to a report from Property Casualty 360. For instance, if a person lives in New York City, they might choose to register it somewhere upstate, or even in another state entirely, where insurance rates are cheaper. This can save them as much as a few thousand dollars on their auto insurance annually.

    What’s being done?
    It’s not always easy to identify this type of crime, but when it happens, the general consensus in the insurance industry and even among some lawmakers, is that there should probably be stiffer penalties for committing it, the report said. In fact, the New Jersey state legislature is now considering a bill that would do so if people are caught in this kind of crime, which is sometimes referred to as “phantom garaging” or “rate evasion.”

    “Current fraud laws in New Jersey do little to deter rate evasion and do not encourage prosecution,” Howard Goldblatt, director of government affairs for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, recently told lawmakers, according to the site. “The proposed legislation would help insurers and law enforcement combat this crime.”

    Generally, people are understandably perturbed whenever their rates go up, and that might lead them to think about shopping around for new coverage. Because of this, agents may want to consider the value of talking to people about why rates rise, instead of hoping they won’t jump ship. This can be important because consumers tend to value good customer service quite highly, and as such, even the occasional premium hike might not rankle them as much if they have a strong ongoing relationship with their agent. That, in turn, will typically lead to better customer satisfaction ratings and higher retention levels.