WOODLAND – When someone crashes their vehicle, purchases auto insurance after the fact, and then submits a claim for the damage, they are breaking the law by committing insurance fraud.
“It’s called ‘crash and buy’ and this type of insurance fraud infuriates law-abiding citizens who pay for insurance year-round, sometimes for decades, and are rarely, if ever, involved in a vehicle accident and rarely file a claim,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “California Department of Insurance investigators investigate any and all types of insurance fraud, no matter how big or how small.”
One such investigation involved uninsured motorist Alicia Hernandez, 32, of West Sacramento who was involved in a car accident on June 2, 2015. Despite a West Sacramento Police Department report stating the time of the collision, Hernandez purchased an insurance policy from Esurance approximately two hours later, and then filed a claim for the collision she was involved in.
On March 23, 2017, Hernandez was convicted of filing a false insurance claim and providing false statements of her traffic collision. The conviction resulted from a joint investigation between the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office and the California Department of Insurance.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, during a phone call with Esurance, Hernandez made false statements regarding the collision in an effort to obtain coverage from her insurance claim.
Hernandez later provided a recorded statement to Esurance stating that she purchased the policy a few hours before the collision. However, the insurance company already had the police report from the West Sacramento Police Department and the recorded conversation from when Hernandez attempted to purchase her automobile insurance. The investigation showed Hernandez' version of the events, including her timeline, were suspicious and inconsistent.
Hernandez pled no contest to misdemeanor insurance fraud. Yolo County Superior Court Judge Daniel MaGuire placed her on three year’s summary probation and sentenced her to 10 days in county jail. Hernandez also pled no contest to driving on a suspended license and was sentenced to five days in county jail.
Purchasing an insurance policy after a collision has occurred and then reporting that a collision took place after the inception of the policy is a crime. Insurance Fraud is the costliest white-collar crime in America behind tax evasion. Insurance industry studies show that about ten percent or more of property/casualty claims are fraudulent. Insurance fraud costs Americans billions of dollars each year.
District Attorney Jeff Reisig stated that, “Everyone pays substantially higher insurance premiums because of the crooks who commit insurance fraud. We are committed to investigating and prosecuting this type of fraud in our community.”