Insurance fraud is the sort of white-collar crime that just about anybody in the New York City area could be accused of.
Many New Yorkers might think of white collar crimes as involving corrupt businesspeople or professionals, as well as those who might be operating in organized crime.
However, whether as part of their business or personally, the vast majority of people have some dealings with insurance companies.
For example, an average New Yorker is going to have health care through an insurance plan as well as automobile and property insurance. Within this group of people, most have probably filed a claim; certainly almost of all of them have received health care benefits.
New York’s laws strictly require those who deal with insurance companies to be truthful and open with them.
These rules apply both to when a person is filing a claim for a policy’s benefits or is purchasing an insurance policy. Basically, any false statement, or even a misleading omission, to an insurance company can lead to a criminal charge.
When pursuing the charge, the prosecutor will have to prove that a person intended to get coverage or receive a claim payment by fraud. An honest mistake, or even carelessness, is not enough for a court to enter an insurance fraud conviction.
These rules do not just cover obvious cases like a person who burns down their own home or business to get insurance money.
Even seeming “white lies,” like working under the table while receiving worker’s compensation or lying about one’s driving record on an automobile insurance application, can be grounds for an insurance fraud charge.
The penalties for insurance fraud are serious
Even if the amount of money involved is practically nothing, someone charged with insurance fraud will face the possibility of a misdemeanor conviction on their record.
Along with any other penalties, the court may require a person to spend up to 1 year in jail or 3 years on probation. The court may also impose a fine of either $1,000 or double the amount of money involved in the fraud.
It’s also remarkably easy, even for a first-time offender, to face a felony insurance fraud charge.
A prosecutor may charge a felony if the amount involved is more than $1,000, with a higher-level felony applying if the amount involved is more than $3,000. If one thinks about the cost of health care, repairing automobiles and the like, $3,000 is not much money.
New Jersey has separate laws that cover insurance fraud.
Someone accused of insurance fraud in the New York area should evaluate their legal options carefully.