When Will We Ever Learn

by Bernard McCormick Tuesday, March 08, 2011 No Comment(s)

It must have been 12 years ago, maybe more, when I got a call from the insurance company. The guy was irritated. He wanted to know why I had not reported an accident.

“What accident?” I replied. “I haven’t had an accident since the Civil War." He went on to describe an accident involving a woman driver, who happened to have my daughter’s name. I still did not know what he was talking about. My daughter never drives my car, I told him.

He went on, giving me the the date, time and location of the accident. I think it was on Commercial Boulevard. Slowly, memory cut in. As the insurance guy bombarded me with figures, I began to vaguely recall an incident. My daughter had borrowed the car and she called to say a strange thing had happened. She was almost in an accident. A beat-up car filled with people who did not speak English (probably Haitians) had almost hit her. She thought the other driver was trying to hit her, cutting her off, but missed. Just a light tap. No damage. The other car was so beat up it didn’t count. The cops came and ticketed the other car because the driver had no license. I forgot about it until the insurance company called.

Memory revived, I told him I did not report it because it wasn’t an accident. Then he told me a bunch of claims had been filed. I told him right off this must be a scam. Nobody had been hurt that day. He told me insurance companies usually paid such claims, even though they doubted them, because they did not trust juries, who sometimes gave huge awards to people with mysterious whiplash injuries. The insurance guy scared me by saying my insurance could be cancelled, even though I had not filed a claim since the Spanish-American War. When the insurance guy supported the claim in writing, I followed up by calling a doctor’s office listed on the accident report. No answer.

Being scared, I went on record with a letter explaining I had not reported an accident that never occurred. I saved the insurance guy’s name and a few months later, I read about a ring that had staged false accidents, and one of the names was the doctor on my non-accident, I called the insurance guy. He was delighted, and wanted all the details of the bustees.

This rant comes from an editorial in today’s The Miami Herald, citing a fake accident ring that was busted in Dade County last week. The Herald reported 25 people arrested, involving a staged accident in which an insurance company paid out $80,000. The Herald wondered why, and added an angry aside about medicare fraud in Dade County, and asked why the criminals manage to stay ahead of enforcement on such matters. Why indeed? When the fraud is so transparent, with dozens, sometimes hundreds of complaints coming overnight from the same source, where is the oversight?

For perspective, and in the interest of accuracy, I just checked with my daughter. Her fake accident occurred almost 20 years ago. When will we ever learn?

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