I submit a claim of ethics. Fraudulent insurance claims occur regularly in our society. Medicare carefully watches for double billings and inaccuracies. Small independent companies observe false claims submitted by policyholders, and leading insurance carriers create watchdog committees and study the data to reduce the number of fraudulent claims. The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud has data estimating fraudulent claims to exceed $79 billion per year (“Insurance Fraud: The Hidden Tax,” http://www.insurancefraud.org/facts.html). Can the insurance industry put a cease to fraudulent claims? I think not. However, I intend to share a personal story and submit a claim of ethics that can reduce fraudulent claims.
A few years ago, I worked for a leading insurance company. I received a telephone call from a very dear friend. She proceeded to inform me of an accident she had been involved in over the weekend. I listened to her relate the details. However, I was not prepared for her next few words. She reminded me that she was a single mom and lacked the ability to cover her $200 deductible under collision coverage. She asked if I would submit the claim under her zero-deductible, comprehensive coverage. By changing the facts of the accident to comply with comprehensive coverage, she would then be able to repair her vehicle at no cost to her. I was stunned by her request.
My first reaction was disbelief. After disbelief, I became angry. How dare she place me in a compromising situation? Do I choose friendship or do I choose to stand on ethical principles? Aristotle says, “It is our sacred duty to honor truth more highly than friends (Nicomachean Ethics Book 1, Chapter 6, Line17).” On that day, several years ago, I stood in full agreement with Aristotle. I submitted my friend’s “collision” claim based upon the truth. Her claim was processed under collision coverage and she was properly compensated for the damages less her $200 deductible.
Most policyholders view insurance companies as wealthy, high profiting, gouging corporations. Insurance companies pay executives high-wages, and they award their top insurance agents lavish vacations based upon the volume of business they write. That’s right, they’re getting rich due to the exorbitant costs of our auto insurance premiums. Some of us might think that since the insurance industry is gouging policyholders in premiums, turn about is fair play. So what if I don’t give the correct mileage driven per year, so what if I lie about having an anti-theft device, and so what if I fail to report all drivers in the household? After all, the insurance industry is raking in big bucks from hard-working citizens. Should hard-working citizens lie about simple details such as mileage driven, anti-theft device discounts, and drivers?
If it’s acceptable to lie about the mileage driven, then is it acceptable to lie for a friend? If lying for a friend is deemed appropriate, why not lie on our taxes? If tax evasion is tolerable, what does it matter if children lie to their parents? At what point does society step up to the plate and view a lie as a LIE?
Fraudulent claims can be reduced if society stands steadfast in the belief that truth and honesty are still worth valuing. An ethical stance benefits society as a whole. Once policyholders submit only those claims that are legitimate, premium reductions should occur. More importantly, we restore the virtue of truth among our people. In closure, I submit a claim of ethics. I claim that society will be richer when we stand on truth; therefore, society must hold truth more valuable than a friend.