Fraud committed by doctors is the reason why you’re paying too much for car insurance



You are overpaying for car insurance.

Did that headline grab your attention?

Insurance companies hope so. They want you to pay attention and help them solve a problem that’s costing them — and, ultimately, you — money.

Insurance investigators say chiropractors in the Puget Sound region are targeting victims of car accidents, convincing them to get treatment, and then passing the bill along to their insurance carriers.

“It’s a crime against the insurance company,” said Scott Wagner, Senior Special Agent with the National Insurance Crime Bureau, which is investigating this issue for Washington’s major insurance companies.

According to investigators, a handful of chiropractors are billing for treatments that patients don’t need or want.

Consider what happened to Michelle, her husband and their 2-year-old son, Noah.

They were in a car accident in Puyallup in July.

The car was totaled.

Nobody was hurt.

A week after the accident, a chiropractor called Michelle and convinced her to bring the whole family to the clinic.

“They said the claim was going to close immediately. They said we need to come in if we want to have any future claims,” said Michelle, who asked not to use her last name.

A week after the crash, the man riding in the other car that day, Ed Cella, also got the same phone call from a chiropractor.

“He kind of got belligerent on the phone and was a jerk about it. I had to hang up on him to end the conversation,” said Ed.

Ed didn’t go to the clinic, but Michelle and her family did, thinking their insurance company wanted them to get treatment.

“I thought they were in business together,” she said. “The chiropractor and my insurance company.”

The chiropractor billed her insurance more than $300 for treatment the insurance company claims was not necessary.

Investigators tracked dozens of similar cases and discovered the calls were coming from seven chiropractic clinics and their telemarketer partners in Olympia, Tacoma, Bellevue, Marysville and Auburn.

“They’re being deceptive when they call the accident victim to get them to come to their office,” said Wagner, who claims the chiropractor misrepresents himself or herself as working with the victim’s insurance company or misleads the victim into thinking the insurance company wants him or her to get treatment.

According to NICB agents, the most complaints come from Bay Center Chiropractic in Olympia.

Bay Center refused to do an on-camera interview and provided a brief statement from its attorney, John McDonald.

The lawyer claims the clinic’s practices are “consistently ethical and lawful.”

Investigators believe the chiropractors, or the telemarketing companies they hire, are tracking down the names and phone numbers of accident victims from public records.

In Washington, car accident records are saved in a collision report by the Washington State Patrol.

The report includes names, phone numbers, diagrams and a narrative of the accident, including injuries.

Officials at the offices of the state’s Attorney General and Insurance Commissioner say this practice is perfectly legal, although certainly questionable.

Now, the insurance companies are clamoring the change state law to make it more difficult to obtain names and contact information of accident victims.

“People wonder why insurance premiums go up,” said Wager, “and it’s because insurance companies are having to pay out so much fraud.”

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