“Everybody’s paying for fraud. It’s not a victimless crime,” said Department of Insurance director Ray Farmer.
Assistant Attorney General LaRone Washington added that tackling SC’s insurance fraud benefits the state’s citizens, as 10% of the cost of insurance premiums is directly related to fraud – with 10% representing upwards of $1,000 in additional insurance premium payments per year.
“If insurance fraud in South Carolina did not exist, it’s the equivalent of if someone at Christmas gave you a check for $1,000, and that would be what every household saves,” Washington said.
Washington also told WIS News 10 that most of the fraudulent claims filed in the state are related to auto accidents. He also gave some perspective, noting that auto accidents – both real and fraudulent – comprised 59% of total claims in SC in 2020. SC also ranks 8th in the US for staged auto accidents.
“Criminals are a lot smarter than people give them credit for,” he said. I think they kind of understand, ‘This is what we’re starting to get away with,’ and they kind of see the trends, just like the rest of us do, they say, ‘Okay, my cousin, my friend did it and nothing happened to them.”
According to Washington, about 35 other states have similar inter-agency partnerships to combat insurance fraud. He also said that North Carolina collects millions in restitution from insurance fraud cases per year, and that NC has ten times the full-time insurance fraud detectives SC has. SC’s new program hopes to mirror what NC has, Washington commented.
“The expertise of the Department of Insurance will be used by the SLED agents, and then SLED agents will develop the case, and they’ll give any indictments that are appropriate to be signed by the Attorney General,” explained Farmer.
The task force is funded with roughly $2 million from the General Assembly, and should be fully functioning by September 01, 2021, WIS News 10 reported.