Citizens Recognizes International Fraud Awareness Week
November 16, 2015 - Tallahassee, FL
In recognition of International Fraud Awareness Week (November 15-21), Citizens is embarking on a long range initiative to address insurance fraud, particularly as it relates to water loss claims that have risen at an alarming rate in recent years, especially in South Florida.
“Fraud: Identify It. Report It. Help Stop It!” is a public education campaign to increase awareness among Citizens employees, agents, policyholders and the public of the costs of insurance fraud and the ways to prevent it. In 2016, Citizens will reach out to policyholders through mailers and other media to provide practical advice and spread the word that insurance fraud is everyone’s concern.
“At Citizens, we fight fraud all year long, but we can’t do it alone,” said Barry Gilway, Citizens President, CEO and Executive Director. “Knowledge and vigilance are powerful tools to identify, report and stop costly fraud.”
Statewide, water loss claims account for a third of every premium dollar collected by Citizens. In Miami Dade County, water claims soak up more than half of every dollar paid by Citizens policyholders. Those losses come despite evidence that other factors including construction type and age of home are not significantly different in Miami-Dade than in other parts of the state.
Fraudulent claims hurt nearby policyholders who must shoulder the burden of higher rates. Florida law requires that losses within a particular geographic territory be paid by policyholders within that territory. For 2016, Miami-Dade personal lines policyholders will see an average rate increase of more than 6 percent. Were it not for water claims, nine out of 10 Miami-Dade policyholders would see rate decreases next year.
Citizens has already taken internal steps to strengthen its fraud fighting resources by bolstering analytics and data mining capabilities for its Special Investigation Unit (SIU), Office of Internal Audit and Claims information Technology, Security and Agency Audit departments. Citizens’ investigators work closely with other agencies, particularly the Department of Financial Service to detect and prosecute fraudsters.
“Fraud is a serious crime and affects us all. That is why it is critical that Citizens addresses this issue,” said Joseph Theobald, Citizens SIU Director. “Everyone at Citizens plays an important role in helping to stop fraud.”
In 2002, the Florida Legislature created Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (Citizens), a
not-for-profit alternative insurer, whose public purpose is to provide insurance to, and serve the needs of, property owners who cannot find coverage in the private insurance market.