Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2010 | midnight
Insurance companies have reported a rise in the number of “questionable” slip and fall insurance claims, and Las Vegas is among the cities with the most claims.
Las Vegas had the fourth-highest number of questionable claims in the country, according to a report that will be released today by the Illinois-based National Insurance Crime Bureau, a nonprofit organization funded by insurance companies to fight insurance fraud.
Nationally, the number of questionable claims, or claims that insurance companies believe could be fraudulent, has risen 57 percent over the past 2 ½ years.
The cities with the highest number of questionable claims were New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Las Vegas and Chicago. California, Florida, New York, Illinois and Texas were the top five states.
Most of the claims were related to commercial properties, officials said.
“While many people have legitimate accidents in stores and businesses across the country, we’ve seen a growing number of cases that have some indication of potential fraud,” said Joe Wehrle, the bureau’s president and CEO, in a statement. “Our agents, working with insurance company investigators and law enforcement, are busy identifying and targeting organized criminal rings that make a good living staging slip and fall accidents.”
Wehrle said such crime rings might come into an area and hit several retailers or businesses, get a quick settlement from the business, then leave the area.
“A typical slip and fall case may involve two people going into a big box store or retailer, and splitting up,” Wehrle said. “The first person goes down an aisle while the other keeps a lookout. When the coast is clear, he or she pulls out a small bottle of liquid, pours it on the floor and then pretends to fall on the floor. The partner runs to assist and tells everyone that he witnessed the fall.”
In the first half of 2010, there were 997 slip and fall claims referred to the bureau for investigation.
Anyone with information about insurance fraud can report it anonymously by calling 1-800-835-6422 or by visiting nicb.org.