Losing your home and possessions to a flood, fire, or other natural disaster is a tragedy. As Floridians, we are especially vulnerable to these catastrophic events. Homeowners insurance may not replace your home and possessions, but it can provide you with compensation to help rebuild your life.
Many people try to get a check from their insurance company by submitting a false claim. Florida state law does not tolerate those who commit insurance fraud. Nearly 1,100 Floridians were arrested for suspicion of insurance fraud between 2016 and 2017. If you’ve been charged with insurance fraud, you could be facing prison time. You need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Meltzer & Bell, P.A. has years of experience representing Palm Beach clients just like you. Our award-winning attorneys possess a unique combination of prosecution and defense experience. This allows us to anticipate the prosecution’s strategy to provide you with the best possible defense. We offer a free initial consultation to review your case.
Call (561) 557-8686 or complete our online form to schedule your consultation. You can speak to one of our representatives 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We will work to reduce or dismiss your charges. Meltzer & Bell, P.A. represents South Florida clients in Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Wellington, Palm Springs, and other communities in Palm Beach County.
Insurance fraud is the act of fabricating or misrepresenting damage done to your property to receive a payout from an insurance company. Florida Statute 817.234 defines the crime of false and fraudulent insurance claims. Three elements must be proven by the prosecution to convict someone of insurance fraud:
Most major insurers have a department devoted to investigating fraudulent claims. Their investigators are trained to find and flag claims they believe are fabricated or embellished. These employees specialize in fraud detection, but they’re not perfect. You could be falsely accused, and it’s possible you made an honest mistake on your claim that is interpreted as intentional fraud.
Proving your fraudulent claim was made knowingly can be a difficult task for the prosecution. A trained insurance fraud attorney can help you build a strong defense against fraud charges.
All acts of insurance fraud are felonies. The dollar value of the claim determines the degree of the felony charged:
Third-degree felony charges carry a sentence of up to five years in prison. Second-degree felonies can result in a sentence of up to 15 years. A conviction for a first-degree felony carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.
In addition to criminal penalties, you could face a civil lawsuit from the insurer. If found guilty in civil court, you will have to reimburse the insurer for any money you received fraudulently. In addition to repaying the money you received, you will also have to pay any punitive civil fines assessed. You’ll likely also have to pay the plaintiff’s attorney fees.
Insurance fraud isn’t just committed by career criminals. Anyone with an insurance policy can file a false claim and potentially end up a convicted felon. Sometimes, this includes public servants.
A Jacksonville elementary school principal was charged with insurance fraud in November 2018 after claiming $16,000 of damage to his home. The accused man alleged the damage occurred during Hurricane Irma, but he is accused of fabricating and altering invoices to defraud his insurance company. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted.
In August 2018, a Miami-Dade Police lieutenant was arrested for not only insurance fraud but also scheme to defraud and grand theft. He and his ex-wife filed three separate fraudulent claims over several years. The fraudulent claims netted the couple over $100,000. Now the couple faces years in prison and an enormous financial penalty if they are found guilty in civil court.
Insurance fraud | NAIC – The National Association of Insurance Commissioners is a self-governing group of insurance regulators with representatives from every state. Visit this link to read a thorough summary of insurance fraud. Here you will learn about different types of insurance fraud and how fraud can be reported.
2016-2017 insurance fraud statistics | Florida CFO – The office of Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, Jimmy Patronis, publishes an annual compilation of insurance fraud statistics. This report from 2016-2017 provides information about the number of insurance fraud allegations and the number of arrests made. Visit this site to view a detailed breakdown of Florida’s insurance fraud statistics by category.
False and fraudulent insurance claims | Florida Statute 817.234 – The Florida Legislature publishes the full text of the law governing insurance fraud on its official website, Online Sunshine. Visit this website to read the complex statute and learn about the various acts that constitute insurance fraud in Florida. Here you will also learn how insurance fraud is charged.
Insurance fraud is a serious charge, and it can happen to anyone. You could even be wrongfully accused. Maybe your inaccurate statement on a claim was an honest error. Whatever the case, it is in your best interest to contact a proven criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Our team at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. can provide you with the best possible defense. When possible, we will work to reduce or dismiss the charges against you.
Call (561) 557-8686 or complete our online form today to schedule a free consultation. One of our accomplished attorneys will review your case and advise you how to proceed. Meltzer & Bell, P.A. represents Broward and Palm Beach County clients in Miramar, Pembroke Pines, Delray Beach, Miami, and other communities across South Florida.