24% of Americans Say Insurance Fraud is Acceptable

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The number of Americans who believe it is acceptable to alter insurance claims has decreased over the past 11 years. Still, according to new findings from an online Insurance Research Council (IRC) public opinion study, 24 percent of Americans believe it is acceptable to increase an insurance claim by a small amount to make up for deductibles they are required to pay. Additionally, 18 percent believe it is acceptable to increase a claim to make up for premiums paid in previous years when they had no claims.

Younger male respondents were more likely to view claim padding as acceptable. Among 18- to 34-year-old males, 23 percent agree it is alright to increase claim amounts to make up for premiums, compared with just 5 percent of their older male counterparts and just 8 percent of females aged 18-34.

After comparing this year’s results to the past 32 years, IRC sees a positive shift in consumers’ views of the ramifications of insurance fraud. While 10 percent of the “Insurance Fraud: A Public View, 2013 Edition” respondents agreed that “insurance fraud doesn’t hurt anyone,” 86 percent of Americans agree with the statement “insurance fraud leads to higher rates for everyone.”

Two-thirds (66 percent) approved of legislation to limit attorney and medical provider access to police accident reports for the purposes of soliciting new clients or patients, a marked increase from 2002, IRC said. And, 80 percent were willing to participate in claim processes that could help insurers detect and prevent fraud, such as examinations under oath (85 percent) or independent medical exams (80 percent). Eighty-two percent agreed that persons who commit insurance fraud should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

"The decline in the public acceptance of fraud is encouraging," said Elizabeth Sprinkel, SVP of the IRC. "However, the fact remains that nearly one in four Americans are tolerant of claim padding behavior that has direct implications for claim costs and the cost of insurance for consumers. Moreover, one-in-ten believe that insurance fraud doesn’t hurt anyone, indicating the need for continued public education."

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