Florida generated more cases of suspected insurance fraud tied to organized crime than any other state, according to a National Insurance Crime Bureau report.
The bureau examined 13,014 suspicious insurance claims that showed signs of being linked to criminal rings. Insurers referred the claims to the bureau for investigation between Jan. 1, 2008, and June 30, 2012.
Florida referred 3,530 of the claims to the bureau, followed by California with 2,679 claims, Michigan with 1,080, Texas with 1,050 and New York with 765. Florida also referred the most claims per 100,000 residents.
Among cities, Los Angeles filed the most suspicious claims linked to organized crime, followed by New York, Miami, Detroit and Tampa, Fla.
Overall the number of such claims referred for investigation increased 47 percent nationwide from 2008 to 2011, despite a decrease from 2010 to 2011. The bureau says growth picked up again in 2012. It's unclear whether the increase is due to growth in criminal activity or greater vigilance by insurance companies.
Most of the suspicious claims were related to personal car insurance policies, with losses involving bodily injury, personal injury protection or collision coverage. Investigators suspect many of the claims stemmed from staged accidents. Criminal rings purposely cause accidents and then file bogus insurance claims for exaggerated or fake injuries.
Insurance companies say flawed no-fault auto insurance systems, particularly in Florida and New York, encourage fraud. Losses from insurance fraud are passed down to consumers in the form of higher car insurance rates. The Insurance Information Institute says a typical two-car family in Florida pays $100 a year extra for auto insurance as a result of fraud.