Grants of $23m have been given to California DA’s to tackle auto insurance fraud


Grants of $23m have been given to California DA's to tackle auto insurance fraudThe District Attorney’s offices around the state of California will now get grants of about $23 million to tackle the auto insurance fraud. Maria Ramirez has a tough job fighting auto insurance fraud in the most populous county in the state. Her division had been going through a lot of hurdles due to the rise in crime and the scaled-down government budgets. Hence, this announcement brought in a lot of cheer.

Dave Jones, Insurance Commissioner in the state announced funds that totaled to $15.2 million. This was distributed to around 35 counties as part of the regular auto insurance fraud grant program. Another $7.6 million was then distributed to 10 counties for their organized auto insurance fraud program. These funds would be used by the DA’s to investigate and prosecute auto insurance fraud.

The Insurance Commissioner distributes these funds to all district attorneys for their participation in investigation and prosecution of auto insurance fraud. The state’s Insurance Commissioner is granted statutory authority that allows the collection of assessment from auto insurance companies depending on the number of vehicles they have insured. These funds are then distributed by the Insurance Commissioner to the DA’s.

The Los Angeles County’s Auto Insurance Fraud Division was the biggest recipient of the grants that has amounted to approximately $7 million. L.A. County leads in suspected fraudulent claims.

Ramirez states that they were barely able to pay salaries this year to the investigators who were working on auto insurance fraud. She heads the division and states that they were literally “operating on fumes” as a result of this.

The division has 12 attorneys and there are approximately 20 investigators who are spread out in the organized auto insurance fraud sections and the regular fraud, she stated.

Ramirez also added that if they did not have the grants, they probably would not have been able to have an entire division dedicated to investigation and prosecution of insurance fraud.

Ever since the economic downturn in the US, L.A. County has seen a rise in the auto insurance fraud and that took a turn for the worse in 2008, stated Ramirez. She also added that there were a number of false claims that were filed during this time. False claims involving stolen vehicles or arson were the largest involving single claimants.

In reality, much more resources are needed to fight these organized crime rings as they involve lawyers, chiropractors, as well as those who organize these frauds.