MIAMI, Florida (July 18, 2012) -- Mercury Insurance Group established one of the insurance industry’s first Special Investigations Units (SIU) to fight insurance fraud back in 1978. It’s been an ongoing battle ever since that involves inspecting potential fraudulent crimes, such as suspicious fire and auto accident claims, as well as educating public officials and consumers.
Part of the education process involves conducting events like last week’s “Fire and Live Burn Seminar” in Miami, Fla., where four cars were intentionally set ablaze to explore how different burn patterns can reveal the cause of fires and their origin.
“Insurance fraud is not a victimless crime,” says Dan Bales, Mercury’s national director of special investigations. “It’s estimated that insurance fraud in the U.S. costs consumers $80 billion or more each year. Events like this help open a dialogue and create ways for officials to network and exchange information about their experiences, which can lessen the burden on policyholders and local fire and police departments.”
The burn seminar was created by Mercury for local media, SIU investigators from numerous insurance companies, as well as Florida prosecutors, fire marshals, law enforcement and firefighters. Miami was a logical event host because there were more than 300 suspected arson-for-profit cases reported in Florida during the past few years, including commercial, home, vehicle and watercraft fires.
“Fraud is one of the biggest contributors to escalating auto insurance costs for consumers, so educating the entire SIU community is one way to directly fight this type of crime,” says Edward Lopez, Mercury’s SIU field operations supervisor, who directed the burn seminar. “We’ve received very positive feedback from participants, so we’re already planning a similar workshop later this year in north Florida and we hope to begin producing these seminars across the U.S.”
ABOUT MERCURY INSURANCE (www.mercuryinsurance.com)
Mercury Insurance (MCY) is a multiple-line insurance organization offering predominantly personal automobile and homeowners insurance through a network of independent agents in California, Florida, New Jersey, Texas, Arizona, New York, Georgia, Oklahoma, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Since 1962, Mercury has specialized in offering quality insurance at affordable prices – core values that distinguish Mercury in the marketplace.