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In the State Insurance Code of California, legislators report that “fraudulent activities account for 15 to 20 percent of all auto insurance payments.” To help reduce the burden on the industry which is then passed on to consumers, special laws have been enacted to make it easier for state and local law enforcement officials to work with insurance officials to investigate and prosecute all types of insurance fraud. (Cal. Ins. Code §1871).

That means that anyone accused of insurance fraud needs to take the accusation seriously because the potential penalties can cause tremendous hardship. Insurance fraud charges will be prosecuted by professionals with a great deal of practice in this area of law, so those facing fraud charges are advised to work with legal counsel with a similar level of experience. An Oakland insurance fraud lawyer who understands how insurance fraud cases are handled by local courts will be able to help protect your rights to reach the optimum outcome.

Penalties for Insurance Fraud

Insurance fraud is governed by different provisions in the California statutes, including the Insurance Code and the Penal Code. Penalties vary depending on the provision involved, the type of fraud at issue, the value of compensation obtained fraudulently, the existence of prior convictions, and other factors.

In many cases, fraud is treated as a felony with penalties that include fines of up to $50,000 or twice the amount of the fraudulent compensation (whichever is greater) and terms of imprisonment of up to five years. If the offense is treated as a misdemeanor, penalties include up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

In addition, an insurance fraud conviction can result in a host of other unwanted consequences such as losing eligibility for certain benefits, difficulty with employers, and trouble obtaining insurance in the future. Because the consequences are so severe, consulting with an experienced defense attorney can be critical.

Types of Fraud

For every type of insurance, there are several forms of fraud. People in the Oakland area have filed fraudulent insurance claims for car insurance, homeowner’s insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, medical insurance, property insurance and other forms of insurance.

Fraudulent insurance claims include incidents such as:

  • Filing a claim for damage to a vehicle that already existed at the time of the accident at issue
  • Presenting multiple claims for the same injury or damage
  • Intentionally burning property to obtain compensation
  • Faking or exaggerating an injury to obtain workers’ compensation benefits
  • Abandoning a car and reporting it stolen
  • Assisting someone else to commit insurance fraud
  • Exaggerating the extent or value of damage to obtain extra compensation
  • Changing medical documents to make an injury appear more serious or to lengthen the term of disability

To obtain a fraud conviction, it must be shown that the person charged intended to defraud another. So as a defense, in many cases it is possible to make a strong argument that there was no intent to defraud. For instance, if it is alleged that a driver is seeking compensation for pre-existing damage, the driver could argue lack of awareness of that damage.

Consulting an Oakland Insurance Fraud Attorney

Because insurance fraud is governed under so many different laws with a wide range of potential penalties and numerous applicable defenses, it is wise for anyone facing insurance fraud charges to work with an experienced insurance fraud attorney.

A knowledgeable Oakland insurance fraud lawyer can help you collect and preserve evidence to build the strongest defense and help you reach the best possible outcome in your case. Call now to find out how our experience can help you.

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