Winnipeg, Manitoba — Manitoban drivers seem to excel in getting caught with auto insurance fraud. The number of Manitobans charged with auto insurance fraud has tripled since 2019, reports Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI).
MPI executive Curtis Wennberg said the increase in people getting caught is largely due to MPI’s increase in investigating suspicious claims.
According to the insurer, by the end of July 2020, there had been 88 fraud charges laid against 33 people. The rise of charges are stark compared to the 30 charges laid against 10 people during the same period in 2019.
“MPI has adopted a business change to emphasize that insurance fraud is a crime, and pursue both a denial of coverage and charges going forward,” said Wennberg. “Following extensive investigations, these files are forwarded to the prosecution office for review.”
A special investigation unit (SIU) at MPI is responsible for handling suspicious claims, and according to the Crown corporation, in 2019 the SIU saved more than 10 million for MPI rateplayers in 1,200-plus investigations.
Wennberg states that fraud-related charges can fall within the Criminal Code, the MPIC Act or the Highway Traffic Act.
Fraud over $5000 and under $5000 will have potential penalties such as financial fines, criminal charges or restitution orders to pay back MPI. Charges can also be laid for making false statements.
“A criminal record can affect travelling across the border, employment or business opportunities,” said Wennberg. “Insurance fraud is not a victimless crime and this criminal activity affects honest Manitobans through their premiums.”