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Fool Me Once:
Insurance Scams & How to Avoid Them

APEF: Solving the Financial Illiteracy Crisis

As you venture into the world of insurance, it's crucial that you're aware of potential pitfalls. Scams come in all shapes and sizes - often targeting unsuspecting consumers. This article seeks to equip you with knowledge of various types of scams- how they work, examples of them in action, ways you can avoid falling prey, and how to not unintentionally commit fraud yourself! We’ll also look into how insurance companies employ processes to detect instances of fraud. Let’s get into it!


Scams to watch out for:


  • Fake Insurance Policies:

    • How it works: Fraudsters create fake insurance policies at unreasonably low costs. 

    • Example: You purchase what appears to be legitimate travel insurance online only to discover later it was all a scam when you’re unable to make a claim.

    • Impact: You could find yourself without coverage when you need it most, and in the event of a claim may realize your “policy” doesn't actually exist - leaving you responsible for all expenses related to that claim.

    • How to avoid it: Always verify the legitimacy of an insurance provider by reading reviews, verifying licensing status, and visiting official websites.

  • Phone and Email Scams:

    • How it works: Scammers contact individuals either via telephone calls or emails pretending to represent insurance companies and seeking personal information or payment.

    • Example: You receive a call from someone claiming to be from your insurance provider asking for sensitive data such as your Social Security numbers or credit card details.

    • Impact: Sharing personal data with these scammers may result in identity theft, fraudulent transactions, or fraudulent policies being taken out in your name, which can compromise your credit and financial well-being.

    • How to avoid it: Never reveal personal or financial data over the phone or via email without verifying its legitimacy with an insurance provider using official contact details.

  • Identity Theft for Insurance Fraud:

    • How it works: Fraudsters use stolen identities to purchase insurance policies or file false claims.

    • Example: Your identity is stolen, and the thief uses it to take out an insurance policy or submit fraudulent claims.

    • Impact: Fraudulent policies or claims filed under your identity may cause financial losses and damage to your credit score. Clearing up the aftermath of identity theft can be time-consuming and challenging.

    • How to avoid it: Regularly monitor your personal information, set strong passwords, and report any suspicious activity to both your insurance company and the relevant authorities.

  • Swoop-and-Squat Scam (Auto Insurance):

    • How it works: To create a staged accident, while one vehicle "squats" in front of the target's vehicle, another vehicle "swoops" in front of the two cars and stops short, causing the target to rear-end the “squat” car. The driver will file a claim with your insurance company stating that the accident was your fault- the driver of the swoop car will support this claim, and they will split the payout.

    • Example: A driver suddenly cuts into your lane and stops, and causing you to rear-end another vehicle. The witnesses all claim that you were responsible for the accident.

    • Impact: You could be held liable for damages, potentially increasing insurance premiums and leading to legal consequences; you could also be injured as a result.

    • How to avoid it: Maintain a safe following distance and be wary of abrupt lane changes by other drivers.


Other examples of insurance fraud:

  • Paper Accidents: Fraudsters document fake accidents, often with fictitious witnesses and inflated damages, to file fraudulent claims.

  • Airbag Fraud: A scammer may deploy or tamper with airbags to create the illusion of an accident and file fake injury claims.

  • Phantom Vehicle Thefts: Someone reports a vehicle as stolen when it's not, with the intention of claiming insurance money for the “theft.”

  • Medical Provider Fraud: Dishonest healthcare providers may bill insurance companies for services or treatments they didn't perform or might even bill patients directly for services they never received.

  • Renters Insurance Scams: Fraudsters falsely claim damages or theft of personal belongings to file exaggerated renters' insurance claims.


Insurance companies monitor fraud by utilizing data analytics to detect patterns, and collaboration with law enforcement agencies helps identify and prosecute the fraudsters. Insurance companies can also leverage technology like AI and machine learning to find anomalies and suspicious behavior. There are many other ways insurance companies sniff out fraud- fraud hotlines, special investigation units, and biometric authentication just to name a few. When insurance companies detect fraud, their actions will depend on the severity and nature of the fraud but could include denial of claims, policy cancellation, or even legal action. 


Insurance fraud typically involves intentional deception for financial gain, but there are situations where you might accidentally engage in activities that could be considered fraud. Unintentional actions, while not meeting the legal definition of fraud, could still lead to consequences so it’s important to be mindful of these potential pitfalls. Here are a few examples:

  • Inaccurate Information on Applications:

    • Accidental Scenario: You fill out an insurance application form which contains unintended errors and omissions that make the information untrustworthy; for example, you provide an incorrect address details or misrepresent your driving history.

    • Consequence: Should inaccuracies be discovered, you could face issues related to coverage or claims even though your misinformation wasn't intentional.

  • Overestimating Property Values:

    • Accidental Scenario: You overestimate the value of personal property when purchasing property insurance, without the intent to deceive.

    • Consequence: In the event of a claim, the insurer may pay out based on the accurate value, potentially leaving the you with a coverage gap.

  • Failure to Update Policy Information:

    • Accidental Scenario: You forget to update insurance policy details after major life changes (like a marriage or relocation).

    • Consequence: If an insurance provider is unaware of changes, their policies may no longer accurately reflect your current circumstances and might compromise your coverage.

  • Unintentional Double Reporting:

    • Accidental Scenario: You report the same claim to both an insurance company and another entity (for example, a government agency) without realizing that doing so would constitute double-dipping

    • Consequence: Depending on your specific circumstances, this could create complications and legal issues.

  • Misunderstanding Policy Terms:

    • Accidental Scenario: You misunderstand policy terms, resulting in you accidentally not disclosing certain information required by the insurance company. (Learning all this jargon ahead of time means no mistakes later on!)

    • Consequence: The insurer may investigate the circumstances, and if they find unintentional non-disclosure, it could impact a potential claim settlement.


Can insurance matters be boring? Absolutely, but you have to stay diligent and make sure you understand policy terms, provide accurate information, and amend policies as necessary. To avoid unintended complications, always carefully read and understand your policies- you can always ask for help if you need it!


Navigating the insurance landscape can be tricky, but by being informed and staying aware you can protect yourself from falling prey to scams. By understanding various types of fraud and adopting good habits, you can start your financial journey with more confidence!

Soft skills refer to a set of personal attributes, behaviors, and social attitudes that enable individuals to interact effectively with others in a workplace or social environment. These skills are essential for building healthy relationships, communicating effectively, solving problems, and collaborating with others.

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