Maryland families, individuals, and businesses deal with insurance as a part of their everyday lives. Whether it be health insurance, homeowner’s insurance, auto insurance, or any of the other forms of insurance you might have, you are likely at some point or another to have to file a claim with one of these agencies. Many people think that if some sort of event occurs that requires insurance to step in, exaggerating or making things up is an easy way to get free money out of the insurance company. However, these companies are most concerned with their bottom line and undertake serious investigations into claims, meaning you are likely to get caught and charged with insurance fraud.
At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, our skilled Maryland insurance fraud defense attorneys have years of experience under our belts successfully defending clients from these charges. We understand that an insurance fraud case can often be the result of a mistake or a misunderstanding between you and the company and we are here to tell your side of the story. For a free consultation, call us today at (410) 694-7291.
What Constitutes Insurance Fraud in Maryland?
At its core, insurance fraud involves filing an insurance claim for any event other than what actually caused the injury or damage. This can take many forms. Some of the more common forms of insurance fraud include the following:
- Lying about the amount of damage caused to your vehicle in an accident, or lying about injuries resulting from the accident
- Deliberately causing an accident in order to collect insurance money
- Obtaining medical treatment, including prescription drugs, by filing false medical insurance claims
- Intentionally damaging or destroying an insured object to collect insurance money
- Submitting false financial statements to insurance companies or adjusters
- Claiming an insured home has been broken into or an insured vehicle has been stolen when this is not the case
- Faking a disability when you do not actually have one
Note than in certain cases, additional charges beyond insurance fraud can also be filed as a result of actions intending to defraud an insurance company. For example, if you burn your house down in an attempt to collect on your homeowner’s insurance, you can also be charged with arson.
How is Maryland Insurance Fraud Discovered?
Insurance agencies are concerned first and foremost with their bottom line. They understand the risk of insurance fraud and have entire departments at their agency whose job it is to track down and prevent such fraud. If you file a claim based on an accident, they will demand proof of what occurred in the form of pictures and medical documents. They may even have your car examined by their own mechanic or require you to visit their doctor to confirm your injuries. For homeowner’s claims, an investigator is typically sent to the home to survey the damage.
There are certain types of claims that raise red flags with insurance fraud specialists. This can include filing a claim right after you purchased the insurance, filing multiple claims in close succession, telling a story of an accident that is inconsistent with the story told by the other person involved, failing to cooperate with an investigation, or providing conflicting information or bare-bones accounts of what happened. If the insurance company believes enough red flags have been raised or they have direct proof of fraud, they will report you to the Maryland Insurance Administration, Maryland Insurance Fraud Division, who will investigate the matter and refer any criminal charges to the local or state prosecutor.
Insurance fraud can also be reported by other individuals who are aware you are committing the fraud. If the insurance company does not catch you, you can still face charges if a citizen complaint is filed with the Insurance Fraud Division. Each complaint will be thoroughly investigated.
At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, we understand that just because an insurance company believes fraud has occurred does not mean that it actually has. Our lawyers can show that your intent was not to defraud and that you thought that the claims you made to the company were accurate.
Penalties for Insurance Fraud in Maryland
An insurance fraud claim that involves something valued at less than $300 is charged as a misdemeanor. For a misdemeanor insurance fraud conviction, you can face penalties of up to 18 months in prison and fines up to $10,000. If the insurance fraud involves something valued at $300 or more, it will be charged as a felony. A felony insurance fraud conviction can bring with it penalties of up to 15 years in prison and fines up to $10,000 or three times the value of the false claim, whichever is more.
Long jail sentences and harsh fines are not the only penalties you will face if you are convicted of insurance fraud, however. Because this is a crime of fraud, you could lose any professional licenses or certifications you may have where your honesty in dealing with the public is a factor. Furthermore, you are unlikely to be able to get insurance at a reasonable rate in the future. When insurance companies see a conviction for insurance fraud on your record, they will either deny you coverage altogether or demand exorbitant monthly sums to insure you.
If You Have Been Accused of Insurance Fraud, Call Our Experienced Maryland Defense Lawyers Today for a Free Consultation
Insurance companies employ investigators who are incredibly skilled at sniffing out fraudulent claims, and state investigators and prosecutors take claims of insurance fraud referred to them very seriously. Being convicted of insurance fraud can bring far-reaching penalties including serious jail time, harsh fines, and long-term damage to your reputation and your career. The best way to fight to get such a charge downgraded or dismissed is to retain a seasoned Maryland insurance fraud defense attorney like those at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice. We will leave no stone unturned in mounting an aggressive defense for you inside and outside the courtroom. For a free consultation, call us today at (410) 694-7291.