Each year, auto insurance fraud is a huge reason for rate hikes for drivers nationwide, and often this kind of crime is committed over and over again by the same people. However, such a fraud ring was recently broken up in Massachusetts, and the mastermind behind it has pled guilty to dozens of charges. When rates do rise for some people, even the best drivers, insurance agents might want to explain the various reasons why this kind of thing might happen, including rising instances of fraud.
Lefen “Helen” Chen, a self-professed illegal immigrant from Taiwan, recently pled guilty to 167 counts in relation to her operation of a massive insurance fraud ring in Western Massachusetts over a period of six years that bilked companies out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to a report from the Daily Hampshire Gazette. However, after 128 days in jail, the plea deal will allow her to face no additional sentencing. She was instead placed into the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.
“This ring was disrupted, the message was sent, and the commonwealth’s goals were met,” First Northwestern Assistant District Attorney Steven Gagne told the newspaper, in explaining why Chen faced no sentencing. “It’s a hefty sanction she faces [from Immigration].”
More cases coming?
Because Chen headed such a massive scheme – in which New York City drivers were taken to buy insurance in Western Mass., where rates are far less expensive – there were many more people charged with crimes as well, the report said. To date, 238 charges have been filed against 38 people, Chen included, and most of the rest were people who bought coverage with her help. Since then, many have likewise pled and paid significant restitution, totaling $20,000 to this point. However, Chen did not have to pay restitution, as she is considered indigent.
Insurance agents who can better explain to their clients the ins and outs of coverage, and why costs should be expected to rise or fall in any given year, might have the best customer satisfaction numbers going forward. This is because polls have shown that consumers actually value a good relationship with their agents and a stronger understanding of their policies even over saving a little bit of money when it comes to their coverage. That, in turn, can lead to very strong retention rates.