In the wake of an insurance claim, it’s common to feel stressed and unsure of your next step.
If you’re ever in this situation, it’s possible that you’ll encounter someone falsely claiming to be acting on behalf of an insurance company. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), a nonprofit organization that partners with insurers and law enforcement agencies to facilitate the identification, detection and prosecution of insurance criminals, there have been reports of medical professionals, attorneys, body shop owners and others telling individuals involved in a claim that they’re acting on behalf of ERIE or another insurer.
“These people are known as runners, and they may send you a letter, call you or even show up on your doorstep,” says Ron Bryant, a senior fraud investigator in ERIE’s Indiana Branch who has 19 years of experience in fraud investigation. “They may even tell you that your insurance company wants you to use their services. ERIE would never do that.” While some states have laws prohibiting such solicitations, many others do not.
While you’re free to use the services of any doctor, attorney or other service professional in the aftermath of a claim, it’s important to exercise caution if someone claims to be acting on behalf of your insurer.
“These runners may even receive special payments for other referrals they make,” explains Ron. “Know the facts and use your best judgment if you’re ever in this kind of situation.”
The NICB agrees with Ron’s advice. “The NICB recommends that following an accident or other loss, you contact your insurance company before speaking to any service provider, including doctors, lawyers, repairmen and tow truck drivers,” says Carol Kaplan, director of public affairs for the NICB. “Often, unscrupulous service providers will contact policy holders without being solicited and this is often a red flag. Our advice: If you didn’t request it, reject it.”