General Tips to Protect Yourself Against Insurance Fraud
- Never sign blank insurance claim forms or applications. Get a copy of every form that you sign. Fill out your application carefully. Incorrect, incomplete or false information on your application can jeopardize your insurance coverage. It is a crime to supply false information on an insurance application or claim. Do not let an agent convince you to say anything or file information that is not true.
- Keep a file of documents related to your insurance, including the policy, correspondence, copies of advertisements, premium payment receipts, notes of conversations, and details of any claims submitted.
- Never pay premiums in cash. Always pay by check or money order and make your check payable to the insurance company or agency not the individual agent. Whenever possible, give your payment to the insurance company instead of the agent. Never pay with a blank check. If you are paying in installments make sure you understand how much your payments will be. Be suspicious if an agent tries to bill you for future installments. Normally only the company or premium finance company will do this.
- Demand detailed bills for auto and home repair and medical services. Check closely for accuracy. Make sure “free services” are not actually hidden in your insurance bill.
- Be cautious of buying insurance from door-to-door or telephone salespeople or off the Internet. Never pay for insurance until you are certain that the agent or company is legitimate. A key warning signs to look for are if an agent or company tells you that this is a “one-time deal” or your “last chance for special savings” or a company boasts it will insure everyone regardless of history or risks.
- Know what your policy does and does not cover. Expect a copy of your policy from your agent in a reasonable amount of time. Read your policy immediately to verify that it contains the coverage you discussed with your agent. If not, contact your agent immediately or return your policy.
- Keep your insurance identification number confidential. Go elsewhere if an agent becomes evasive when questioned about things like coverages, prices, or installment plan arrangements. Deal only with reputable agents. Ask your friends or family to recommend agents they found helpful and reliable. Do not buy the first policy you find. With most things you buy, you shop around and compare prices and features. Do the same with insurance. Always obtain quotes from several companies and compare benefits and rates before you pay your first premium.
- Deal only with licensed companies or otherwise eligible insurers and with licensed agents. Selling insurance without a license is a felony in Idaho. Licensed insurance companies must demonstrate to the Idaho Department of Insurance that they are financially sound. In addition, guaranty associations pay claims of licensed insurance companies that fail. Claims against unlicensed insurance companies could go unpaid if the company becomes insolvent. If you would like to verify a company or an agent in Idaho, click here.
- Remember there is a free-look period in which you have time to review a policy once you have received it. All life and health policies must have a free-look period of at least 10 days, although some may be longer.
- Read the policy when you receive it. Make sure that the word “insurance” is actually used and that there is no disclaimer stating that “this product is not insurance, nor is it intended to replace insurance.”
After an auto accident be careful of strangers who offer you quick cash or urge
you to see a specific medical clinic, doctor or attorney. They could be part of
a fraud ring.
If you think insurance fraud has been committed or you have a complaint against an agent or a company, call the Idaho Department of Insurance at (208) 334-4250 or toll free at 1-866-939-7226.