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Missing keys and memory lapses: how Manitoba drivers attempted to commit insurance fraud this year

Manitobans found several creative ways to attempt to commit insurance fraud in 2023, according to Manitoba Public Insurance’s annual list of top frauds of the year.

The Special Investigations Unit investigates questionable claims and compiles the list every year. The department closed over 3,000 investigations, which resulted in claims savings of over $10.5 million for MPI customers.

“Our experts in SIU investigate suspicious claims to give customers the peace of mind that the right claims are being paid for the right amount,” said Satvir Jatana, MPI’s Chief Customer Officer, in a news release. “This annual list showcases some of the most unique ways people attempt to commit fraud, and the techniques MPI’s experts use to stop them, helping to save our ratepayers millions of dollars.”

The top fraud involved a customer opening up a collision claim for their vehicle and claiming they only became aware of the need for repairs when they went to pick up belongings from an impound lot. The driver also denied consuming drugs, alcohol or medication 12 hours before the incident but MPI said the evidence told a different story.

The driver of the vehicle was seen driving erratically, causing property damage, hitting a parked vehicle and almost hitting a pedestrian. Open drugs and alcohol were seized by police from the vehicle and the driver was seen stumbling around after the collision.

The driver maintained they had no knowledge of the incident, but his claim was denied. MPI said it saved ratepayers $60,000.

A single-vehicle crash involving a luxury vehicle was the second on the list. The driver claimed they hit a bump in the road while driving at 60 km/h and lost control. SIU believed the damage was too extensive for the reported speed, and examined data from the car, which showed it was being driven at three times the speed reported.

That driver had their licence suspended and their claim denied, which MPI said saved $42,000.

In the third spot, a driver claimed injuries they suffered in a crash caused them headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain and arm pain. This meant they were unable to work, lift more than five pounds or drive for more than 30 minutes for which they received income replacement benefits.

However, surveillance showed them lifting a 40-pound jug of water, shovelling snow, chasing after a garbage truck, driving and performing other activities without any apparent side effects.

The benefits ended, and MPI ratepayers were saved $57,000.

The fourth case involved a customer said their truck was stolen overnight and they were missing one of the two sets of keys for it. However, the investigation determined that the insurance for the vehicle was set to expire the day after the theft allegedly happened and the driver was not planning on renewing the policy.

The driver told police only one key was given to them when they purchased the car, contradicting what they told MPI. The truck was found following a rollover, but no keys were inside it. Investigators found a programmed key was used to start the car.

The claim was denied based on giving a false statement, which saved MPI $43,600.

The final claim involved a driver involved in a rear-end collision. The driver claimed his spouse was a passenger in the car at the time and exchanged information with the other driver. MPI investigators found the driver was alone in the vehicle at the time of the crash, when he needed to have a supervising driver in the car with him due to licence restrictions.

“When asked to exchange information, the unsupervised driver had their spouse come to the scene to do so on their behalf. The couple denied any wrongdoing when questioned by SIU investigators and collision data was unable to support their accounts,” MPI said in a statement.

Their claim was denied, saving MPI $10,200.

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