June 11, 2018, Fort Worth, TX – Hurricane season is officially upon us and the coastal states are gearing up for the unpredictability of tropical weather. Homes are often flooded, severely damaged, or completely destroyed by the strong storms that accompany hurricanes which leads to an influx of insureds filing claims. The probability that an insurance carrier will run into fraudulent claims increases dramatically after a natural disaster, and Michael Parker discussed how to successfully identify and prosecute these claims at the Florida Insurance Fraud Education Committee (FIFEC) Annual Conference in Orlando on June 7, 2018.
As the managing partner of Parker, LLP Attorneys at Law, Parker’s experience as an SIU investigator, attorney, and officer of the State Guard Association of the United States has allowed him a front row seat to disaster-related claims and fraudulent schemes. This experience comes from his service deployed to aid in the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, as well as investigating fraudulent claims related to various disasters. In Parker’s presentation titled, “Floods of Fraud,” he discussed the challenges that occur during the aftermath of a natural disaster and ways insurance carriers can fight fraudulent claims.
Parker said that any time a massive group of people experience a devastating loss due to a natural disaster, it is difficult to recognize when the emotional desire to “save people” inhibits the job that needs to be done. Whether encountering property insurance fraud, contractor fraud, vendor fraud, or price gauging, Parker outlined the following ways to recognize these types of fraud early:
- Inflation of losses, fake repairs, or purposefully causing damage to personal belongings all point to property insurance fraud.
- Contractor fraud is evident when companies require large cash deposits up-front before beginning work or they claim to be “FEMA Certified or Endorsed.”
- Disaster victims are often contacted by people asking for money or personal information claiming they are a part of an organization; however, this spells vendor fraud.
- A sudden increase in the price of good that are in high demand or there is a shortage of following the disaster is evidence of price gouging.
Though it can be challenging to identify these types of fraud before it’s too late, Parker discussed the prosecutorial tools that insurance adjustors and investigators can utilize such as state and federal statutes. Retaining SIU counsel, such as the experienced attorneys of Parker, LLP, to conduct Examinations Under Oath is also a useful pre-litigation technique.
If you are dealing with disaster-related fraud or have additional questions regarding the issues involved, or are interested in presentation opportunities on this topic, please consult the experienced legal counsel of Parker, LLP Attorneys at Law at (888) 557-3311.