Auto insurance fraud costs Manitoba Public Insurance ratepayers an estimated $50 yearly. A dedicated Special Investigation Unit (SIU) at MPI is committed to investigating suspicious claims and detecting fraudsters on behalf of honest ratepayers. This year’s list highlights the most interesting.

“MPI releases its annual top five fraud list to raise awareness about the costs related to auto insurance fraud,” said Satvir Jatana, MPI’s Chief Customer Officer. “The list is compiled based on the unique circumstances of each fraud, financial savings to MPI ratepayers, and the investigative techniques used in confirming fraudulent activity.”

Anyone with information about auto insurance fraud is encouraged to call the Manitoba Public Insurance TIPS Line: 204-985-8477 or toll-free 1-877-985-8477. All calls are anonymous. Last year the SIU closed about 1,000 investigations, resulting in a claims savings of about $14 million.

1) Phony Kidnapping

After her badly damaged vehicle was recovered by police, the Winnipeg woman told MPI her vehicle had been stolen out of her garage. She said the thieves messaged her via Facebook, demanding payment for returning the car. The woman admitted she did not call police, but agreed to meet the thieves, who she stated then kidnapped her, speeding around the city for hours and eventually crashing the vehicle.

Due to many gaps in the story, MPI’s SIU launched an investigation. An examination of the vehicle’s ignition and immobilizer system conducted by MPI’s Research and Training Department revealed that the vehicle would not run without a key inserted into the ignition. In her statement the owner confirmed that she had all keys in her possession.

When presented with the findings of the investigation, the vehicle owner admitted she had lied about the kidnapping. Truth was, she was in the vehicle driving around with a group of “friends” drinking and speeding around the city. They eventually crashed into another vehicle and immediately ran from the scene.

The theft claim was denied, saving MPI an estimated $68,000.

2) The Fast & Furious

The 20-year-old driver told the MPI adjuster that he had been working a lot of overtime during the week and one night while driving home around midnight fell asleep and drove off the road, crashing into half a dozen parked vehicles. The posted speed limit on the road was 50 KM, with the young driver saying he was travelling 55 KM/H at the time of the crash.

However, the extent of the on-site damage contradicted the man’s story.  A download of the vehicle’s Data Crash Recorder indicated the vehicle was travelling at nearly 140 KM/H at time of impact. The brake pedal was not applied and seatbelts were unbuckled. Surveillance footage was also taken from various locations on the travelled road, showing the vehicle was racing with another vehicle seconds before the crash.

There was also an on-site investigation which confirmed there was a long, straight 1.6 km stretch of road where the racing took place. The road then makes a left curve which the one vehicle was unable to negotiate, causing it to leave the road and crash heavily into a number of parked vehicles.

Based on the true facts of this investigation, the collision claim was denied and MPI has begun a recovery of costs from the responsible driver. Cost savings to MPI estimated to be $150,000.

3) Truckin’ Along

A professional truck driver, the Winnipeg man was injured in a single-vehicle incident while hauling a load. Based on the extent of his injuries, he was entitled to receive Income Replacement Benefits and Personal Care Assistance payments.

He told his MPI case manager that his injuries prevented him from lifting his arms above his shoulders, unable to lift heavy objects, physically unable to drive more than 15 minutes, could no longer take out the garbage and recycling bins, or work his regular job.

After receiving information that the man was working while still collecting benefits, an investigation was opened, consisting of surveillance which conclusively showed the man was working, able to drive many hours a day and was seen carrying a number of objects, including heavy wooden crates.

Based on the investigation, MPI contacted the man and informed him his benefits were being terminated. He was also charged with Fraud Over $5,000 and Make False Statement. Estimated savings to MPI was more than $700,000.

4) Centre Stage

Two individuals opened separate collision claims, with one driver admitting he was responsible for the T-Bone collision at an intersection. The SIU investigator attended to the collision scene and noticed a surveillance camera pointed in the direction of the collision intersection. The surveillance clearly showed both vehicles slowly travelling through the intersection several times prior to the collision.

The surveillance also showed both vehicles were deliberately positioned in a T-Bone configuration, with one car accelerating into the other vehicle which was slowly entering the intersection. When presented with the facts, one owner admitted he and his friend planned this “staged” collision to write-off their vehicles. Savings to MPI was $15,297.46.

5) Canine Caper

The Winnipeg woman opened a collision claim, stating a dog ran onto the roadway, causing her to swerve and collide with a pole and large flower pot located on the yard of a private residence. There was significant damage to both the woman’s 2020 Ford Explorer and items in the yard.

The woman also provided the name of a third-party witness, who told the MPI adjuster that the vehicle did swerve to avoid a dog and the woman was driving.  Based on statements received, MPI determined the driver was not at fault, resulting in no financial compensation from MPI to the owners of the property.

When told of this decision, the owners of the property then provided MPI with video footage of the collision which clearly showed there was no dog running across the road, and the driver of the vehicle was a male.

When presented with this new information, the woman admitted to lying to protect her boyfriend who was driving and did not hold a valid driver’s licence. The witness would later admit they had come across the crash after the fact, and did not see a dog.

The collision claim was denied and MPI is seeking to recover costs from the unlicensed driver. Claims savings to MPI was $29,840.08.