Claims under auto insurance policies run the gamut from repairs for damage to the vehicle to medical bills. Although many such claims are legitimate, statistics suggest that drivers are increasingly committing fraud against their insurers. Defrauding an insurer not only risks one’s insurance. It is also a category D felony, punishable in Nevada by up to four years of imprisonment as well as fines and other financial restitution.
What qualifies as auto insurance fraud in Nevada?
To be prosecuted for the crime of insurance fraud an individual must have knowingly and willingly taken steps to deceive an insurer. In simplified terms, fraud involves making statements that the person submitting the statement knows are false or misleading, or that conceal or omit facts that may be material. A consumer can commit fraud in an application for insurance, in a claim, or by helping someone else commit a deception. Accepting benefits that one is not actually entitled to is another form of insurance fraud.
As a criminal matter, the individual’s intent is a key requirement for the state to prosecute for insurance fraud. Someone who makes a claim based on mistaken information might not be committing criminal fraud. Making a mistake is not enough to qualify as criminal fraud, so long as the insurer is notified of the mistake once it is discovered.
The criminal question may not be the only one to ask in a given situation. The insured person also needs to understand if the insurance policy has specific rules and requirements for inadvertent errors or omissions. Even if the insured can’t be prosecuted for criminal fraud, the insurer may still refuse to honor the policy in circumstances where it feels the insured is not fulfilling his or her contractual obligations.
How does an insured person avoid committing insurance fraud?
Some people deliberately try to trick their insurers in various ways. Most people understand that purposefully lying to collect on insurance policies, for example by staging accidents, is illegal and likely to end badly. But ordinary people can sometimes be tempted to make fraudulent statements to an insurer.
The key thing to bear in mind when dealing with insurance companies is that there is no benefit to making false statements or leaving out important details. Insurers are in the business of finding reasons to deny claims, and insured people should assume that the insurer will thoroughly examine every claim to verify that it is valid. One may be tempted to leave out a detail that might give the insurer a grounds for denying the claim (for example, a driver omitting that she was unlawfully using her cell phone in an accident in which she was not primarily at fault) or adding a small additional component to a claim (such as claiming damages for things that aren’t related to an accident). These are temptations to avoid. Even if the statements don’t rise to the level of criminal fraud, the insurer can deny claims and cancel policies if it thinks it is being manipulated. After being in an accident no one wants to be left without the backing of an insurer.
For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in auto accident, personal injury, and workers’ compensation cases. For a free attorney consultation about your situation call us today at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.