Manitoba Public Insurance unveils Top Five Frauds of 2015

Vehicle technology, good old-fashioned investigation skills and strong partnerships with police agencies were major factors in helping identify those people who tried to defraud Manitoba Public Insurance.

Fraudulent and suspicious claims are handled by Manitoba Public Insurance’s Special Investigation Unit (SIU). The efforts of this special unit resulted in fraud savings last year of $7.6 million for Manitoba auto insurance rate payers. The SIU investigates about 2,500 claims yearly.

Anyone knowing someone who is involved in auto insurance fraud is encouraged to call the Manitoba Public Insurance TIPS Line: 204-985-8477 or toll-free 1-877-985-8477. All calls are anonymous.

No. 1:‘Crash Data Recorder Tells All’

A Winnipeg man stated that he had been the victim of two consecutive hit-and-runs. On the same night.

The man told Manitoba Public Insurance investigators that he was struck from behind by a dark SUV while driving in rural Manitoba. The driver of the SUV did not stop, so the man quickly went into pursuit mode. A short time later, the vehicle owner claimed his vehicle was hit from the side by a truck – with the driver of the truck getting out and fleeing to the original dark SUV.

This stranger-than-fiction story quickly resulted in an SIU investigation, at which time the Crash Data Recorder indicated that the vehicle was parked at the time of the impacts. The man would be charged, and later pleaded guilty to public mischief, receiving a fine of $3,500. His claim was also denied, resulting in a saving of $15,000 to Manitoba Public Insurance ratepayers.

No. 2:‘What the Hay!’

Strangely, there was hay and dry grass stuffed into the vehicle’s engine area. SIU investigators also discovered hay stuffed into the headlight areas of the vehicle. What the hay? Turns out the vehicle owner was trying to destroy his vehicle by setting it on fire.

The vehicle owner claimed he was attending a party out of the city and noticed a large fire in a hay field. As he told the story, he quickly jumped in his vehicle and, accompanied by a few pals, drove out to investigate.

The vehicle owner claims he emptied a fire extinguisher in failed attempts to snuff the fire. As he told his adjuster, the fire then engulfed his vehicle. But the story didn’t add up. In addition to the suspicious placing of hay, the SIU arson investigator would discover an accelerant had been liberally splashed throughout the passenger compartment.

Faced with all the facts, the vehicle owner chose to withdraw his claim. The savings to Manitoba Public Insurance customers was nearly $14,000.

No. 3:‘Cruising For Trouble’

The woman told her Manitoba Public Insurance adjuster that her vehicle had been stolen. What she didn’t know was that Manitoba Public Insurance and the Winnipeg Police Service routinely share information.

Truth was, the vehicle was not stolen ─ the woman willingly gave the vehicle to a male friend, who police had attempted to stop during a traffic stop. Attending officers had clearly observed the woman sitting in the passenger’s seat.

The woman was later arrested and pleaded guilty to public mischief. She was given 12 months probation, and a conditional discharge.

No. 4:‘An Unlicensed Friend’

The Winnipeg man told his Manitoba Public Insurance adjuster that his vehicle had been stolen after it was found badly damaged.

But in an interview with Winnipeg police, the vehicle owner said he had given his vehicle to a friend, who admitted he had been involved in two collisions. The man also admitted he had no driver’s licence ─ which was known by the vehicle owner. Winnipeg police would then share that information with Manitoba Public Insurance investigators.

Due to knowingly giving his vehicle to an unlicenced driver, the vehicle owner’s theft claim was denied ─ a saving of $34,000 to Manitoba Public Insurance and its customers.

No. 5:‘Not so Injured’

A woman sustained injuries to her shoulder and back after being involved in a collision. She then began collecting benefits, including income replacement payments. As the months went on, she told her case manager that she was too injured to work.

However, the truth would soon become clear. An SIU investigation discovered the woman had in fact returned to work – specifically, she was now involved in a physically demanding agriculture position.

The woman would later plead guilty to Fraud Over $5,000 and was sentenced to three years of supervised probation, including counselling, 200 hours of community service work and restitution of $36,000.

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