When property owners experience damage to their home caused by fire or other hazards, they rely on their homeowners insurance coverage as an indispensable form of financial security against loss of value to their home. While fire damage claims often cause a total loss, arson and other insurance fraud schemes harm all policyholders by complicating the claims process, depleting funds to pay legitimate claims, and driving up premiums.
An article published in a recent issue of the Insurance Journal provides an example of the serious consequences that can flow from an insurance scheme involving an intentionally set fire. The individual was accused of insurance fraud after his clothing ignited when he attempted to start a residential fire in his home. He eventually plead guilty to an array of federal charges including conspiracy, fraud, and arson. The policyholder faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and exposure to a maximum sentence of 25 years. The policyholder also was ordered to pay $435,000 in restitution to the insurance companies.
The insurance fraud scheme involved purchasing homes for $6,000 to $15,000 from the period of 2007 to 2013. The individual also purchased insurance policies for amounts substantially exceeding the value of the homes and ranging between $88,000 and $307,000. The elaborate insurance fraud scheme was perpetrated by coordinating with straw buyers and parties who posed as tenants to permit the properties to be overvalued as income producing properties.
While insurance fraud harms both insurance companies and policyholders, insurance companies are often quick to misconstrue innocent facts and assert unjustified allegations of insurance fraud. When parties file fire claims, insurance companies sometimes engage in bad faith tactics to deny the claim or “extort” the policyholder into accepting less than the full value of the claim.
If your insurance company attempts to strong-arm you into an unfair settlement of your insurance claim by threatening to pursue criminal charges, you should seek immediate legal advice from an experienced insurance claims attorney. It can be intimidating when an insurance carrier attempts to discourage a fire damage claim by suggesting criminal liability, the financial consequences of abandoning a valid claim make this option untenable.
You can reach Miami Insurance Claims Lawyer J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo by dialing his direct number at (786) 272-5841, calling the main office at (305) 461-1095, or Toll Free at 1 (866) 71-CLAIM or email Attorney Gonzalez-Sirgo directly at [email protected].