The state and the NICB are working together to stop false claims as filings are received following tornadoes.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) and the Oklahoma Insurance Department (OID) are working together in an effort to combat insurance fraud by educating residents at a time when approximately 23,000 claims have already been filed in the state in the wake of a stream of catastrophic tornadoes and other severe weather events in May 2013.
The storms – which primarily occurred on May 19 and 20 – have generated auto and property claims.
According to the OID, a large number of the thousands of claims that have been filed have to do with damaged vehicles. However, the NICB is cautioning that not all of the activities surrounding this type of filing have been legitimate. There have been some who have seen this disaster as an opportunity for insurance fraud.
The NICB has cautioned consumers about insurance fraud on many levels, even beyond false claims.
According to Mark Wenthold, an NICB special agent, “We have potential for fraudulent impounders coming in and taking these vehicles and the owners and insurance companies don’t know where they are.” He went on to add that “If the Vehicle Identification Numbers aren’t recorded, the cars can end up being crushed and the VINs used on stolen vehicles in the weeks and months ahead.”
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The NICB stated that its representatives, as well as the state’s commissioner, John Doak, have taken the time to tour the ruins of the areas in Moore that were struck by the tornado, and are working closely with insurers and local law enforcement agencies to watch for potential insurance fraud by towing companies and contractors.
Doak released a statement that said that “We’ve learned from previous disasters in Oklahoma,” and that they have “sent a very strong message” that insurance fraud is taken exceptionally seriously in the state. They are now in their vehicles and are actively traveling within the area in order to watch for scammers. The agents watching for scams are in both marked and unmarked vehicles and are both plain clothed and in uniform.