Most adults carry multiple forms of insurance. Sometimes insurance companies make mistakes and accuse people of fraudulent activity that never happened. Other times, insurance holders make mistakes without the intent to commit fraud.
These situations are stressful and can end with a criminal conviction and sentence unless the person accused of insurance fraud understands their rights and consults with a Virginia criminal defense lawyer.
What Is Insurance Fraud?
Virginia Code § 52-36 defines insurance fraud as the commission or attempted commission of obtaining money by false pretense. Specifically, if you obtain money or property by false pretense and with the intent to defraud, then you may be found guilty of a crime.
Different Types of Insurance
Virginia insurance fraud includes the types of insurance defined in §§ 38.2-110 through 38.2-122.2 and 38.2-124 through 38.2-132 of the state's statutes.
Specifically, the different types of insurance that may be involved in insurance fraud claims include:
- Fire insurance
- Miscellaneous property insurance
- Water damage insurance
- Burglary and theft insurance
- Glass insurance
- Boiler and machinery insurance
- Animal insurance
- Personal injury liability insurance
- Property damage liability insurance
- Workers' compensation and employers' liability insurance
- Fidelity insurance
- Surety insurance
- Credit insurance
- Credit involuntary unemployment insurance
- Credit property insurance
- Motor vehicle insurance
- Aircraft insurance
- Marine insurance
- Legal services insurance
- Mortgage guaranty insurance
- Home protection insurance
- Homeowners insurance
- Farmowners insurance
- Commercial multi-peril insurance
Examples of Insurance Fraud
Any intentional action that involves filing a false claim to get money from an insurance company may be insurance fraud. Insurance fraud includes, but is not limited to:
- Overestimating or exaggerating the value of lost items, such as car damage in an auto accident or property damage in a fire
- Using your insurance to pay for someone else's loss who is not covered by your insurance policy
- Purposefully causing damage so that you can make an insurance claim
- Making an insurance claim for something that never happened
Any one of these issues, or any other intent to defraud an insurance company, may result in criminal charges.
Criminal Penalties for Insurance Fraud in Virginia
The potential criminal penalties in a Virginia insurance fraud case depend on the value of the alleged fraud and the crime with which you are charged.
In many cases, the Commonwealth will charge someone with grand larceny if the alleged insurance fraud is valued at $500 or more. Grand larceny is a felony in Virginia. If you are convicted of grand larceny, you could face up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $2,500, or both a prison term and a fine.
You could face additional charges depending on the facts of your case. These charges may include:
- Identify theft. If you use someone else's identity to defraud an insurance company, you may be charged with identity theft. Identify theft is, at a minimum, a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, or both a fine and jail time. If the value of the identity theft is $500 or more, then it is a Class 6 felony and the possible jail time increases to five years.
- Obtaining money by false pretenses. If you intended to commit and committed fraud by lying, deceiving, or tricking the insurance company, then you may be charged with this crime. If the deception's value is less than $1,000, you may be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor and face up to 12 months in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, or both a fine and jail sentence. If the value of the deception is $1,000 or more, then you may be charged with a Class 4 felony and face up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $2,500, or both a fine and prison term.
In some cases, you may be charged with more than one crime and face multiple criminal sentences.
Contact a Virginia Insurance Fraud Defense Lawyer Today
Whether the Commonwealth has already charged you with a crime or you are concerned that you will be charged with insurance fraud soon, it is now time to contact a Fairfax insurance fraud attorney. Our experienced criminal defense legal team will review the evidence against you, advise you of your legal options, and consider all possible defenses. Complete our online contact form or call us any time to learn more.