You probably have a basic idea of what insurance fraud means. It’s when someone files false claims, or claims with misleading information, to trick an insurance company into paying them, right?
That’s actually pretty close to the Illinois statute, which says a person commits insurance fraud when he or she knowingly obtains, attempts to obtain, or causes to be obtained by deception the control over the property of an insurance company by making a false claim, with the intent to permanently deprive the insurance company of property.
Did you notice one key difference, though? Legally, intent is what matters. Even if you don’t receive the insurance benefits you applied for, you can be charged with fraud simply for filing a fraudulent claim.
Moreover, the penalties associated with insurance fraud charges tend to be quite severe.
Types of Insurance Fraud Charges in Illinois and Their Consequences
Many different types of insurance fraud can occur. The most common types include fraudulent claims for property insurance, life insurance, automobile insurance, fire insurance, medical insurance, and workers’ compensation. Health care fraud occurs against entities other than government programs.
Insurance fraud is often referred to as either hard or soft fraud. Hard fraud is deliberately carried out by individuals or crime rings, when accidents, injuries, arson, or theft are faked to illegally collect money from insurance companies. Soft fraud is when people who are usually honest pad their claims to maximize their insurance payouts. Both hard and soft fraud are illegal and punishable by law.
If convicted, you may face steep fines and prison time, and you will need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights, because these types of cases tend to be complex.
Aggravated insurance fraud is a charge that applies if three or more separate transactions or instances occur within an 18-month period. Depending on the case, conspiracy charges may also be added.
The punitive damages for insurance fraud are based on the property value which was obtained or attempted to be obtained from the insurance company, as described below. Additional civil penalties may apply in all these cases as well.
For fraud amounts less than or equal to $300, a Class A misdemeanor charge applies. This includes penalties of up to one year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines.
For fraud amounts between $300 and $10,000, a Class 3 felony charge applies. This includes penalties of between two and five years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
For fraud amounts between $10,000 and $100,000, a Class 2 felony charge applies. This includes penalties of between three and seven years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
For fraud amounts over $100,000, a Class 1 felony charge applies. This includes penalties of between four and fifteen years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines. Aggravated insurance fraud is always classified as a Class 1 felony.
How to Fight an Insurance Fraud Charge in Illinois
For any insurance fraud case, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that several elements are true so that a conviction can be made. First, an individual must have knowingly made a false statement. Secondly, that false statement must be connected to a payment or claim. Third, the statement has material value, and it has impact on the claim’s outcome.
Anyone facing insurance fraud charges needs legal counsel as soon as charges are filed. Evidence needs to be gathered to build a solid defense, and it’s best to collect evidence as early as possible. To improve your chances of reducing the charges, consult with a Chicago criminal attorney experienced in insurance fraud cases. They will help protect your rights and defend your reputation.
About the Author:
Sami Azhari has been working as a lawyer since 2007, after receiving his Juris Doctor from the Michigan State University College of Law. He has handled numerous state and federal cases, and is known throughout the Chicago and Rolling Meadows area for providing his clients with high-quality, skilled representation. He has been recognized by SuperLawyers, the National Trial Lawyers Association, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.