Volume 4 Number 15
April 13, 2007

STUDY: INSURANCE FRAUD BIG IN FLORIDA, AND SO IS THE RESPONSE

Florida's insurance fraud division ranks second in the country, leading the nation in criminal cases it sent to prosecutors for potential trial, and ranks near the top in other key fraud-fighting categories, a Coalition Against Insurance Fraud's state fraud bureaus study shows.

"Florida has some of the largest insurance-fraud problems in the U.S. The fraud division has mounted an energetic response, but the state needs more resources, including fraud prosecutors, before it can begin turning the corner on this crime," said Dennis Jay, the Coalition's executive director, in a release.

The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud conducted an annual study of the 47 state anti-fraud agencies as a barometer of progress in fighting insurance fraud nationally, said James Quiggle, director of communications.

On convictions, Florida ranks second nationally with 493 criminal convictions in 2005--a 27 percent increase over 2004. Florida's convictions are more than five times the national average of 93 convictions per fraud bureau, according to the study. California ranked No. 1, with 1,546 convictions. Based on cases presented for prosecution, Florida's fraud division sent a nation-leading 773 cases to prosecutors in 2005, slightly ahead of California's 754 cases. Florida's total is more than six times the national average of 119 cases presented per fraud bureau.

Also, Florida's fraud division ranks third nationally with 11,068 case leads it received in 2005. Case leads come from insurance companies, calls to the fraud hotline and referrals from other law enforcement agencies, a release said. Florida's total is nearly four times the national average of 2,834 case leads. Florida, California (27,687) and New York (25,945) jointly account for more than half of all case leads received by the nation's fraud bureaus.

In terms of investigations opened, Florida ranks fourth nationally with1,643 fraud cases opened for investigation in 2005. Florida's total is more than twice the national average of 650 cases opened. New Jersey leads the nation with 2,977 cases opened.

Meanwhile, Florida also has one of the nation's largest fraud divisions. It reported the third-largest budget in 2006 ($12.8 million), and third largest staff (171 employees). Florida's budget is four times the average budget $3.2 million, and the division employs more than five times the average of 32 employees. California leads the nation with a $36.8 million budget and 298 employees.

From a court-ordered restitution standpoint, Florida leads the nation in court-ordered restitution with $131.5 million in 2005, with New Jersey second at $89.9 million. The study doesn't track how much money is collected.

The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud is a national alliance of insurance companies, consumer groups and government agencies combating all forms of insurance fraud. The full study is available at www.InsuranceFraud.org.