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ICBC frauds include fires, faked thefts

Torching truck after it breaks down, claiming car was stolen before crash didn't work for drivers

If you’ve ever had a car insurance claim greeted with suspicion by ICBC, there are a few hundred reasons for that attitude.

B.C.’s basic car insurance monopoly has released a report on fraud attempts from 2014, part of an estimated 10 to 15 per cent of insurance claims it says involve fraud or exaggeration. During the year, ICBC investigators referred 131 cases to Crown prosecutors for charges, with convictions in nine out of 10 of them.

ICBC highlighted some of the efforts to obtain insurance coverage that should not have been paid, and how investigators responded.

• A customer reported his truck was stolen at a movie theatre. The vehicle was recovered, burnt. A vehicle inspection showed the burnt truck had serious mechanical problems, contrary to what the customer told ICBC. The customer’s cellphone records revealed that he was at the scene where the burnt vehicle was found.

The customer pleaded guilty to providing a false statement, was fined $4,000 and ordered to pay ICBC back more than $3,000 for investigative and claims costs.

• A customer who was prohibited from driving claimed his vehicle had been stolen at the time it was involved in a three-vehicle crash. Forensic testing of residue on the vehicle’s driver-side airbag revealed a DNA match to the customer and proved he was the driver at the time of the crash. The customer was found guilty of providing a false statement, fined $1,000 and ordered to pay ICBC back more than $18,000 in claims costs and total loss payments for the other two vehicles involved.

• A customer told ICBC his Honda Civic was parked outside his home when it was struck by an unknown vehicle that fled the scene. Damage was not consistent with a hit-and-run and paint flecks matching the customer’s Civic were found embedded in a vehicle from another hit-and-run claim.

When confronted with this evidence, the driver of the Civic admitted to making a false claim, as he had fled the crash scene after his vehicle struck another. Fine: $1,000, plus $5,600 in claim and repair costs.

• A customer with only basic insurance and an expired driver’s licence rear-ended another vehicle. The customer asked the driver in the other vehicle to tell ICBC the crash happened a day later so she could buy optional insurance, which would cover the damage to her vehicle. The other driver refused.

The underinsured customer then bought optional insurance on her way home from the crash. She was assessed the $7,400 cost of repairs to both vehicles.