We’re almost at the halfway mark of 2015, with the summer months upon us. Most state legislatures have shuttered for the year, so this is a good time to evaluate the scorecard.
So far the tally looks pretty good. Several important anti-fraud laws have been booked, and several more are possible.
New Jersey provided a key victory. It’s now an insurance fraud for in-state drivers to deceptively register and insure their vehicles in states with lower premiums. Fraud fighters will seek to export this model to other states.
Minnesota gave the state commerce department power to lodge civil actions against fraudsters. The agency also now can kick fraudsters out of the insurance system — blocking crooks from receiving insurance payouts. The Coalition urged both ideas a couple of years ago when the state started marching toward strengthening its anti-fraud efforts.
Kentucky limited the soliciting of crash victims for potentially worthless medical treatment. The new law fixes a court decision overturning the previous law as unconstitutional. Fraud fighters banded together to create the needed fix. Fraud rings are moving into Kentucky. They’re trying to lure often-traumatized crash victims for treatment at shady clinics that lodge inflated insurance billings for useless treatment.
Florida also confirmed that unlicensed clinics can’t make insurance claims — they’ll be charged with an insurance crime. This effort tightens clinic licensing standards.
Texas limits the use of auto crash reports by shady medical providers. The state already has made it a crime to solicit crash victims in person. Texas added teeth by restricting access to crash reports that recruiters use to identify target crash victims.
West Virginia added consumer protections against shady contractors. New Mexico and Iowa made it a crime to sell or use counterfeit airbags in vehicle repairs.
Grassroots letter-writing efforts by fraud fighters were a big factor in several states. The Coalition and IASIU jointly championed campaigns. Fraud fighters sent letters to their legislators in New Jersey, Kentucky, Minnesota and New York — urging “yes” votes on bills in their states.
More than two dozen letters were sent each in New Jersey, Kentucky and Minnesota, and a campaign record of more than 130 in New York. This likely is the first time any of these legislators has heard from constituents supporting an anti-fraud bill.
Needed no-fault fraud reforms Michigan are still in motion, while New York has crashed.
Michigan needs a state agency to add firepower against auto cons such as widespread crash rings. Yet a measure creating the agency is caught up by haggling about its larger parent bill. It’s a large package that tries to reduce spiraling medical costs of the state’s auto-insurance system.
New York once again stalled in fortifying its no-fault auto system. An auto rate evasion bill much like New Jersey’s has skidded to a halt. Also iced: clamping down on recruiting for crash rings, and using a phony credit card or bank account to pay for premiums.
We’re already looking at fraud bills to pursue for 2016 — both for Coalition work and the grassroots effort. Let us know your thoughts.
About the author: Howard Goldblatt is director of government affairs for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.