Archive for May 2019

Guilty Verdict for a Fraudulent Insurance Claim

This case of insurance fraud involves a husband and wife team.  The husband is a former police officer and the wife is a special education teacher.  Many people may see both as underpaid jobs and this couple decided to add to their income inappropriately.  A felony charge was brought against them due to a fire at their home in 2010 and they pleaded guilty.  In addition to that, there is a pending arson charge from another fire in 2011.

According to an article in the Finger Lakes Times, the couple was in Ontario County Court where they gave a plea of guilty on the 16th of January to third-degree insurance fraud.  A district attorney, R. Michael Tantillo, stated that for one year they will have interim probation and are required to pay restitution of about $12,000 to their insurance company during that year.

In one statement by Tantillo he said that, “This resolves part of the case but not all.  The arson still remains, and we consider that very serious because of the potential hazard to other people.”

It was in April of last year that the charges of insurance fraud were brought against them by a grand jury.  The first fire at their home was not ruled as being arson, but Tantillo said that they were accused of offering false claims to their insurer and thereby defrauding the company.  He went on to say that the couple did relocate after the first fire but claimed to have living expenses during that time.  It turns out that they had been staying with relatives but had not paid them any rent.

As for the second fire, the wife is the one being accused of starting it on purpose and has been given a charge of third-degree arson.  The trial has been schedule for later in the year.

The husband did not receive any of the blame for the 2nd fire in 2011, but he did give a plea of guilty to misdemeanor conduct.  This stems from forged letters he used to avoid being deployed to Iraq.

Tantillo said that during the husband’s employment as a police officer he was also serving in the National Guard.  In 2003, the husband’s letters had a forged signature of the Police Chief of Clifton Springs.  Written in the letters was a request that the National Guard not send the husband to Iraq because he was needed by the police department.

In response to the husband’s guilty plea Tantillo said, “We were glad to see the guilty plea for official misconduct, although it was outside the statute of limitations.  That was very offensive conduct on his part.”

In February of last year the husband, on his own, left the employment of the Clifton Springs Police Department.  Also last year, his wife was dismissed from her teaching position and placed on an alternative administration assignment.

Aside from the husband’s misconduct, this couple has really gotten themselves into trouble.  Insurance companies take fraud very seriously.  Just from one charge the couple now owes $12,000!  That’s a lot of money to have to return and the arson case has yet to be resolved.  Submitting claims to an insurance company in order to receive some extra income may be tempting but in the long run it just isn’t worth it to pay the price later on.
At Filer Insurance, Inc., we have been providing Home, Auto and Business Insurance in Miami and South Florida since 1919.  We would very much like to have you as one of our customers.  Please give us call or come by our office for a free quote on your insurance.

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Cyber Liability Insurance for Business

Most companies have changed how they operate because of the Internet.  A lot of those businesses could have insurance that does not help them with their exposure to the ever-changing world of cyber liability.

A variety of businesses use the Internet in various ways to advertise and run their company.  Examples include having a website, accounts on sites like Facebook and Twitter, computers that are connected to the Internet, an electronic credit/debit card payment system, employees like an owner or manager with laptops containing customer info, etc.  Some businesses may even sell merchandise online which would require the filling out of credit card information on the website.

Every business tool used to promote and run a company may be needed but a standard or typical commercial insurance or general liability policy may not offer any or enough protection for cyber liability.  The more common cyber risks are data/security breach; infringement on copyrights or trademarks; viruses that damage or corrupt data; cyber extortion; worms, hackers and other cyber meddlers; attacks on your firewall and/or network.

Cyber risk coverage may be optional, but businesses should think hard before dismissing it as something that they will never need.  Losses from cyber liability can quickly add up.  A study performed by the Ponemon Institute in 2009 found that the average loss just from a stolen laptop is $49,276 and the majority of it is due to the breach of data.

Just some of the issues to be concerned about are…

Website Publishing
A website maintained by a company could be held responsible/liable for wrongful acts associated with material on their site.  This includes, but isn’t limited to: actual or alleged mistakes; misstatements or misleading statements that cause you to infringe on somebody else’s trademark, right to privacy, copyright, and/or service mark.  Whoever maintains the website can make that error or a hacker can alter the content of the website.

Network Security
A computer or computer system with access to the Internet can be a liability with the possibility of someone breaching the system.  An unauthorized user could send out personal info stored in the system, put a virus in the system or transmit a virus to somebody else.  Any data and/or programs needing to be restored or replaced due to a breach may incur costs to a restaurant.

Extortion Threats
Cyber extortion happens when a company is attacked or there is a threat of an attack followed by a monetary demand to stop or avoid the attack.  One form of this is encrypting the victim’s data and then requiring money before they give them the decryption key.  Cyber extortion can also come in the form of threatening to give out personal info of their clients or damaging/destroying records.  Incidents of extortion have unfortunately grown and prosecution is made difficult with the criminals often operating outside the country of their victim.

Loss of Income
An e-commerce incident can cause a company to lose business income or extra expenses.  One way for this to happen is the computer system being attacked by a virus that damages or destroys information.  The business may have to shut down for one or more days to fix the problem and during that time, there might be no flow of income.

Public Relations
The reputation of a business could be in jeopardy if an e-commerce event causes any negative publicity.  Being closed for a few days may hurt but slowly losing your clients/customers will hurt worse in the long run.

The risks discussed above may not be everything that can happen to you and your online presence.  Keep in mind that Murphy’s Law of “If anything can go wrong, it will” can apply to anyone.  Having an insurance policy that protects you from your cyber liability is not something that should be easily dismissed.  If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to give us a call at 305-270-2100.

At Filer Insurance, Inc., we have been providing Home, Auto and Business Insurance in Miami and South Florida since 1919.  We would very much like to have you as one of our customers.  Please give us call or come by our office for a free quote on your insurance.

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