The relationship between insurance companies and those they insure has always been a somewhat adversarial one. In an ideal world, every policyholder would only file a claim when their circumstances genuinely qualified and insurance companies would never use frivolous disqualifications to avoid paying out legitimate claims. Unfortunately, here in the real world it’s all too common to find yourself at the wrong end of an insurance fraud accusation, usually from the insurance company you trusted to take care of you. When this happens, it’s important to understand that while the reasons may seem frivolous, the consequences definitely are not.
Fines and Jail Time
Like most crimes, the court-assigned repercussions when you are charged with insurance fraud are usually either jail time, fines or both. Insurance fraud charges are measured in stages based on amount of money that is held in question, usually relating to the size of the claim payout though there are other more complicated circumstances in which this amount of money could relate to things like making a policy out in someone else’s name or applying for a certificate of authority. The stages range from under $500 to over $35,000.
Insurance Fraud of Under $500
The entire point of punishment for this sort of crime is to discourage the criminal by ensuring that they come out worse off than they were before the fraud. Therefore, though you may be charged with a false claim of under five hundred dollars, you can be fined up to a full thousand. If the judge feels that the situation requires jail time, you could be pulled away from your job and family for a maximum of three months.
- Max 90 Days in Jail
- Max $1,000 in Fines
Insurance Fraud Between $500 and $1000
For insurance companies, claims below a thousand dollars means almost nothing except that if they let anyone take that much with false claims or hinky policy management, everyone would be trying it. If you are accused of an amount between five hundred and a thousand, the court could assign you an entire year in jail and a fine of three thousand dollars.
- Max 360 Days in Jail
- Max $3,000 in Fines
Insurance Fraud Between $1,000 and $5,000
Getting into real money, if you have been accused of a fraudulent insurance claim or policy manipulation between one and five thousand dollars, this is seen as more than just white-collar petty theft. The moment the accused infraction goes above a thousand, the consequences potentially multiply by five. The maximum penalty for this level of insurance fraud is up to a five thousand dollar fine and five years in jail.
- Max 5 Years in Jail
- Max $5,000 in Fines
Insurance Fraud Between $5,000 and $35,000
Any insurance fraud claims or mismanagement between the fairly large bounds of five and thirty five thousand dollars is subject to a lot of debate as to what the correct punishment is. The maximum penalties are a decade of imprisonment and twenty thousand dollars in fines but, of course, there is also a lot of leeway as to how much of that will be applied depending on how much of a lesson the court feels you, the defendant, need to learn.
- Max 10 Years in Jail
- Max $20,000 in Fines
Insurance fraud of Above $35,000
All insurance fraud charges above $35,000 have the same maximum penalties, in part because it’s not a violent crime. However, in the eyes of the court stealing that much money is a serious crime and worth a great deal of punishment if they decide that you’ve attempted to defraud an insurance company on purpose. For the top level of insurance fraud, the longest time you can spend in imprisonment is twenty years, a fine of up to a hundred thousand dollars, or both if they decide to really throw the book.
You may be thinking that since no one gets hurt, an accusation of insurance fraud can be shrugged off but, please, think again. Depending on how much you are accused of defrauding, the consequences could be bankrupting at best. You need a skilled laywer experienced in the complex twists and turns of insurance policies, claims, and the tricks insurance companies will use when they decide to go hard. If you need an insurance fraud lawyer in Minnesota, contact us today.
Disclaimer: The content of this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Please contact Jennifer Speas to discuss the specifics of your case. Please read our disclaimer.