Staged vehicle accidents are the top insurance fraud issue in the state of South Carolina, according to an analysis released by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).
South Carolina ranks 13th in the US in terms of questionable vehicle-related insurance claims, according to the NICB. That’s significantly higher than states with similar populations like Alabama, Kentucky and Louisiana.
“Staged vehicle accidents are one of the most significant fraud issues facing South Carolina,” said Eric De Campos, director of strategy, policy and government affairs for the NICB. “The impact on residents includes both a financial cost and a safety risk. Residents are not only faced with the costs of the damage done to their vehicles, but also risk serious injury and possible death as a result of vehicle accidents deliberately caused by fraudsters.”
Scammers use various tactics to commit staged-accident fraud, the NICB reported. For example, they may use fraudulent information like inflated medical billing following a staged accident in order to influence settlements from insurers during mediation.
Members of fraud rings, such as passengers complicit in a staged accident, may also visit multiple health clinics and receive treatments for supposed soft-tissue injuries that can’t be verified through medical imaging. These fraudulent injuries and the resulting medical services are used to inflate the insurance claim, the NICB said.
The NICB conducted a city-by-city analysis of South Carolina’s questionable vehicle-related claims spanning from 2020 to 2022. The analysis found that Columbia was the city with the largest number of claims, accounting for 13% of the total. Columbia was followed by Greenville (5%) and Florence (4%). A county-by county analysis found that Richland County ranked above other counties for the number of claims with nearly 15% of the total. Richland was followed by Charleston County and Greenville County, which each accounted for 7% of the total.
“In order to combat this fraud, it is essential to provide the South Carolina Insurance Fraud Division and state Department of Insurance access to the critical resources needed to more effectively deter fraudsters,” De Campos said. “This can include raising minimum criminal penalties for insurance fraud.”
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