Aviva fraud investigation reveals urgent need to reform auto insurance

By Aviva

March 12, 2018 (Toronto, Ontario) – Auto insurance fraud is estimated to cost Canadians more than $2 billion every year. Today, the shocking results of a new Aviva investigation designed to determine the impact of auto repair fraud on insurance consumers highlights the urgent need to reform the auto insurance system.

Through this investigation, Aviva estimates that auto repair fraud across Ontario costs consumers approximately $547 million annually. A year-long secret operation  y Aviva’s fraud investigation team set out to discover what really happens during the auto repair process when auto body shops and tow truck drivers encounter vehicles involved in collisions on Ontario’s roads.

Throughout 2017, Aviva purchased ten cars which investigators and automotive experts deliberately crashed and damaged. Experts retained by Aviva carefully examined and assessed each car to calculate the actual extent and cost of repair.

Equipped with hidden cameras, the damaged cars were positioned near provincial highways at random locations in the Toronto area to simulate collisions. Undercover investigators posing as drivers equipped with recording equipment waited for assistance. The investigation recorded and tracked the entire process from the time assistance arrived at the collision scene, until damaged cars were repaired and invoices submitted.

Evidence gathered during the investigation revealed nine out of ten cases involved fraud. In this investigation, Aviva found:

  • Substantial level of fraud: An average of 57% of total repair costs invoiced to Aviva were fraudulent.
  • Additional deliberate damage: Hidden camera footage caught auto body shop employees deliberately causing damage to cars.
  • Wrongful billing and repairs of car parts: Auto body shops billed for new car parts, but installed used parts, or did not replace the parts at all. Additionally, parts that were not damaged were itemized on the final invoice as repaired.
  • Billing for services not provided: Tow truck operators invoiced Aviva for towing and storageservices that did not occur.
  • Consumer abuse: Tow truck operator offered incentive for tips on accidents requiring towing services, discouraged driver from using Aviva’s accredited auto body shops, towed vehicles without proper permission and asked a driver to sign a blank work order.

Watch this video of the evidence found in Aviva’s fraud investigation.

Commenting on the investigation, Gordon Rasbach, Aviva Canada’s Vice President of Fraud Management, said:

“This amounts to a national scandal. However, we recognize that not every tow truck operator or auto body shop is fraudulent. As for those who are taking advantage of the system, government and the insurance industry must collectively act against auto insurance fraud by tackling the root causes that have led to a broken and dysfunctional system. The way forward begins with government - that is why we are proposing a 5-point action plan on behalf of honest consumers.”

Aviva calls for 5-point action plan

In Ontario, Aviva is pleased to see progress on implementation of The Marshall Report and the Serious Fraud Office, but more needs to be done.

For years, insurers have suspected fraudulent activity coming from the automotive repair industry. Aviva believes provincial regulators should have a clear mandate to regulate the insurance industry to identify, deter and prevent fraud. To that end, Aviva is calling for a 5-point action plan from government to:

1. Ban referral fees to take unnecessary cash out of the system (these fees benefit third party
suppliers but not consumers).
2. Prohibit blank work orders to ban any supplier from asking consumers to sign them.
3. Allow discounts to customers who agree to use an insurer’s accredited repair network.
4. Force insurers to report all identified fraud and investigation outcomes so that data is shared.
5. Increase penalties for suppliers of goods and services to insurance claims who abuse consumers or defraud insurers

Gordon Rasbach continued:

“The video footage and clear evidence of fraudulent invoicing shows just how pervasive the problem of fraud is in Canada. We predict that Canadians are paying more than $2 billion a year for auto insurance fraud. They have told us that enough is enough. Honest drivers who may have been a victim of fraud without their knowledge, or are paying for it through higher premiums deserve better.”

For more information on fraud and how to solve it, visit: https://www.avivacanada.com/fightfraud/

Aviva Canada Inc. is one of the leading property and casualty insurance groups in the country, providing home, automobile, leisure/lifestyle and business insurance to 2.9 million customers. A wholly-owned subsidiary of UK-based Aviva plc, the company has more than 4,000 employees focused on creating a bright and sustainable future for our customers and our communities.

Aviva Canada invests in positive change through the Aviva Community Fund, Canada’s longest running online community funding competition. Since its inception in 2009, the Aviva Community Fund has awarded $7.5 million to over 250 charities and community groups nationwide. Aviva Canada, bringing over 300 years of good thinking and insurance solutions to Canadians from coast-to-coast.

For more info, please contact:
Priscilla Wong, Public Relations Specialist
Aviva Canada Inc.
Mobile: 647 208 7523
Email: [email protected]

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