Insurance fraud after a disaster leads to big problems
While Floridians got a break from hurricanes for three years, Hurricane Ian bit back with tremendous destruction.
With onshore property losses estimated at approximately $42 billion, homeowners and insurance companies continue to swim in a sea of claims. For people who have fibbed a little, fraudulent claims affect more than people may think.
The slippery side of insurance fraud
In many cases, people do not simply decide to commit fraud. Dealing with the chaos of a natural disaster creates an urgency to get restitution. Even if people have a legitimate claim, a few wrong choices lead to a fraud charge. The government considers any false statements fraud. That may include adding more coverage and then filing a claim, claiming property loss on items damaged before the storm, and padding the claim with fictitious assets.
The real and serious consequences
When charged with fraud, people may face both criminal and civil penalties. The amount of money plays a main role in determining the penalties. In Florida, anything under $20,000 may result in up to a five-year sentence and comes with a third-degree felony conviction. On the civil side, a first offense can have a $5,000 fine. For any amount over $100,000, the charges go up to a first-degree felony. The penalties include a possible 30-year prison term. Civil penalties rise by $5,000 for each additional offense. Along with expensive fines and jail time, the insurance company also has the right to file a lawsuit.
When faced with any type of fraud charge, contact an attorney for help.