Learning, networking and losing $ in Las Vegas

iasiu logoMost of the 1,000 or so delegates of this week’s annual IASIU seminar are probably back at their desks today after a few days of learning, networking and losing money in Las Vegas. I always look forward to this conference because it’s one of a few where you can take the temperature of the ground troops in the battle against insurance fraud.

The insurance investigators I met there seemed to be upbeat and optimistic about the future, much more than in recent years. Perhaps it was the location — Cesar’s Palace — or just the opportunity to see old friends, but the delegates I talked with generally reported their units were doing well and they seemed to be secure in their jobs.

With insurers reporting record profits, the pressure on SIUs to cut expenses likely has lessened, and that ultimately should increase anti-fraud activities over the next few years.

The solid attendance at this meeting, combined with a sold-out exhibition hall, suggests the fraud-fighting business is thriving.

At the opening general session, outgoing president Dan Fitzgerald recognized the coalition for its partnership with IASIU over the years. Dan — and his infamous sense of humor — will be missed. IASIU will be in capable hands as Dave Rioux of Erie Insurance takes over the reins of a vital and healthy association.

This conference had a lot of positive energy and many impressive aspects — from the quality of the sessions to hearing the Nevada attorney general speak to the distribution of a convention daily newspaper that was well-written and professionally produced.

Also impressive was the donation of $10,000 to a local domestic abuse shelter that was presented during Monday’s general session. The money was raised from a golf tournament held last weekend, and says a lot about this organization and its members.

Can MRIs really detect lies?

brain scanI have much faith in technology and believe someday scientists will develop a lie detection method that is nearly foolproof and practical for fraud fighters. Every few years a new method promises to be the holy grail of determining deception, but the hype rarely lives up to reality. We’ve seen everything from truth serum to polygraph to voice-stress analysis, but none has been deemed worthy enough to be accepted by courts as evidence in a criminal trial.

The latest method to create a buzz is the “No Lie MRI,” a system used to measure physiological changes in the brain, which when analyzed, can determine whether someone is lying, according to the owners of the system. In fact, they claim 90% accuracy in recent tests, and are now signing up MRI centers across the country to offer this new service.

The technology came to our attention after we learned an accused arsonist in South Carolina used the system to try to clear his name. Deli owner Nathan Harvey was accused of torching his business, and even though criminal charges had been dropped, his insurer refused to pay his claim. Harvey thought maybe the MRI scan results just might convince the insurer of his innocence. No word yet on whether his claim will be paid any time soon.

Nonetheless, the idea of this technology is intriguing, and if it works, could have widespread application from fraud to interrogating suspected terrorists. It also may pose opportunity since the technology is located in MRI centers. Perhaps insurers could ask their medical billers to undergo the tests to determine whether they are inflating their claims?