South Carolina officials are speaking out about a growing problem in South Carolina that is catching many people off guard –- staged car accidents. Why would someone stage a car accident you ask? Well, unfortunately, it usually comes down to insurance fraud.
According to Charleston authorities, faked automobile crashes were a significant part of a scam that ended in charges against 10 residents that included $300,000 in altered medical bills.
Alan Wilson, state attorney general, in the Insurance Fraud Division’s most recent annual report wrote about this issue, saying that “This is a dangerous problem that not only puts innocent drivers at risk, but also requires emergency crews to respond to these staged crime scenes, which wastes taxpayers dollars.”.
While the problem of staged accidents may be get worse for South Carolina, it is not a new issue by any means. In 2014, South Carolina had 223 insurance claims that were suspected of being staged accidents. In 2015, the state was on track to exceed that number with 118 suspected claims received during the first six months of the year, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
Naturally, these fraudulent claims are contributing to higher auto-insurance premiums throughout the state. In fact, South Carolina’s top ten auto insurers increased their premiums by an average of 8.9 percent in 2016. Not an inconsequential amount for most drivers.
David Fernandez, the assistant attorney general who directs insurance fraud prosecutions spoke with the Insurance Journal, telling them that “Of particular concern, despite being in the Top 10 nationally for insurance fraud, our state ranks near the bottom in funding to fight this problem.”.
The good news is that South Carolina knows that staged accidents are an issue and they are actively working to address the issue. The bad news is that there is no real way to know how long it will take to bring about meaningful change, and until it happens auto-insurance premiums are likely to remain high.
If you have any questions about your auto-insurance policy, or are looking to set one up, visit www.tgsinsurance.com to get started!