Insurance companies referred a record number of suspicious insurance claims last year to the National Insurance Crime Bureau for fraud investigation.
Insurers referred 100,450 questionable claims in 2011, a 9 percent increase over the number of reported questionable claims in 2010 and a 19 percent increase over the number of questionable claims in 2009, according to a new report from the bureau. The claims were for car and home insurance, workers' compensation and commercial insurance.
Questionable claims contain one or more indicators of possible fraud. A single claim can contain up to seven indicators.
Property/casualty insurance companies suspected injuries were faked or exaggerated in 17,581 claims. They flagged 8,485 claims for excessive medical treatment. Car insurance companies referred 11,451 questionable auto theft claims.
The report contained one piece of encouraging news. After rising sharply in 2010, suspected cases of auto glass fraud plummeted last year. Car insurance companies referred 817 questionable claims for auto glass repair or replacement, compared to 2,182 such claims in 2010.
"We are encouraged by the trend in auto glass questionable claims," Joe Wehrle, the bureau's president and CEO, said in a press statement. "Our efforts to publicize this problem and to make insurers, law enforcement and the American public more aware of the potential fraud in the auto glass repair arena [are] hopefully having an impact."