Every year, auto insurance fraud in Manitoba costs customers more than an estimated $50 million. To raise awareness of this cost, Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) is sharing its top five attempted frauds from 2023, as investigated by the Corporation’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU).

“Our experts in SIU investigate suspicious claims to give customers the peace of mind that the right claims are being paid for the right amount,” said Satvir Jatana, MPI’s Chief Customer Officer. “This annual list showcases some of the most unique ways people attempt to commit fraud, and the techniques MPI’s experts use to stop them, helping to save our ratepayers millions of dollars.”

Last year, MPI’s SIU closed over 3,000 investigations, which resulted in claims savings of over $10.5 million for customers.

No. 1: Memory lapse

A customer opened a collision claim for their vehicle but could not confirm what had occurred to cause the damage. They reported they were only made aware of the need for repairs when they went to an impound lot to obtain their belongings from the vehicle. They also denied consuming any alcohol, drugs or medication in the 12 hours before the incident.

Based on information received by MPI, the same vehicle was seen driving erratically, causing damage to property and colliding with another parked vehicle, nearly hitting a nearby pedestrian. There were also reports the driver was seen stumbling around after the collision and seemed impaired. Open drugs and alcohol were also seized from the vehicle by the police.

Upon being interviewed by SIU investigators, the driver maintained that they have no recollection of the incident, that they were not impaired and did not have any knowledge of how the damage to their vehicle occurred.

Based on the claimant making a false statement, the claim was denied. The estimated cost savings for ratepayers is over $60,000.

No. 2: Need for speed

An insured individual reported a single-vehicle collision claim, alleging that they hit a bump in the road and lost control of their luxury vehicle while travelling at the posted speed limit of 60 km/h. Unable to regain control, the driver said the car turned sideways and both of the driver’s side tires hit the curb.

An SIU investigation was initiated after it was discovered that the damage to the vehicle was too severe for the speed the driver declared they were going when they opened the claim. Data recovered from the car revealed that the driver was in fact travelling 181 km/h at the time of the collision.

The estimated savings of this denied claim is more than $42,000, and the driver had their licence suspended.

No. 3: Lifting lies

While recovering from a collision, a claimant receiving benefits from MPI’s Personal Injury Protection Plan reported that their neck, shoulder and arm pain as well as dizziness, nausea, and headaches were so severe they were unable to work.

During evaluations, the individual noted that their injuries prevented them from walking or driving more than 30 minutes at a time and lifting more than 5 lbs.

An investigation was initiated, and surveillance revealed the customer performing a number of physical activities, including carrying a full water jug, which weighed over 40 lbs, shoveling snow, operating a wand pressure washer as well as lifting, carrying, and loading a step ladder into their vehicle.

Additionally, the claimant was seen running after a garbage truck, shopping, and driving a vehicle on several occasions with no indication of pain or dizziness.

The claimant’s entitlement to income replacement benefits ended because of the investigation, saving ratepayers more than $57,000.

No. 4: Sneaky keys

An insured customer opened a total theft claim, reporting that they woke up to find their truck had been stolen overnight. They told MPI that two keys existed for the vehicle but one was missing. The known key was in their possession at the time of the theft and no one else had access to it.

The insurance for the vehicle was set to expire the day after the theft allegedly took place and the customer shared that they had already removed the licence plates and was not planning to renew the policy.

The individual also reported the theft to the police – but conflictingly told them that they were only given one key when they purchased the vehicle. The police contacted SIU investigators to share their concerns after they recovered the truck the day after the customer said it was stolen and found that it had been involved in a single-vehicle collision rollover. There were no occupants – and no keys found in it.

A mechanical examination by SIU investigators revealed that two keys were programmed for the truck. The key that the customer turned in had been smashed and unable to be used in the investigation.

Tellingly, the examination also found that the truck ignition, column and immobilizer were intact – meaning that a programmed key was needed to start and run the truck. Data retrieved from the vehicle also showed that prior to the crash it was started with a programmed key.

The claim was denied based on the policyholder making a false statement, saving MPI ratepayers approximately $43,600.

No. 5: Unsupervised driver

While opening a claim, an insured driver reported that after rear-ending a vehicle, they and their spouse, who they stated was a passenger at the time of the collision, stopped to exchange information with the other driver.

After further investigation and with the help of the statement from the other driver, it was revealed that the first driver was alone in their vehicle, despite licence restrictions requiring them to have a supervising driver with them at all times.

When asked to exchange information, the unsupervised driver had their spouse come to the scene to do so on their behalf. The couple denied any wrongdoing when questioned by SIU investigators and collision data was unable to support their accounts.

The claim was denied based on the policyholder making a false statement and the savings to MPI ratepayers was approximately $10,200.