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New insurance fraud research study finds changes in Virginians’ attitudes

RICHMOND, Va. The Insurance Fraud Program (IFP) of the Virginia State Police (VSP) recently completed a state-wide research project on Virginians’ attitudes regarding insurance fraud.

The study, designed to track attitude changes since benchmarking research was conducted in 2000 and replicated in 2005, indicated attitude changes over the 13-year time frame. With a few changes, the questionnaire used for this year’s survey duplicated the 2000 and 2005 survey questions.

Six key issues were covered, which included evaluation of fraudulent behaviors; perceived prevalence of fraudulent behaviors; knowledge and awareness of insurance fraud; personal experience with fraud; likelihood of reporting suspected fraud cases; and awareness of the VSP Insurance Fraud Program.

Key findings of the survey indicate Virginians continue to grow less trusting. The number of respondents believing most people can be trusted dropped from 40 percent in 2000 to 16 percent in 2013. In the two previous studies, almost six in ten respondents believed individuals should “always obey the law.” In 2013, that number declined to fewer than four in ten.

Fewer Virginians believe that morality is a personal matter. Those strongly
disagreeing with the belief that “morality is a personal matter” and “right/wrong is a matter of personal conscience” has essentially doubled since the previous study. The belief that certain behaviors are “always wrong” is eroding.

Fewer Virginians perceive insurance fraud impacts their premiums. The previous studies were consistent with 90-plus percent of the respondents believing insurance premiums are higher because of fraud; however, that dropped to 84 percent in the current study. In addition, fewer Virginians saw insurance fraud as universally harmful, while the percentage of respondents who perceive insurance fraud as harmful to the insurance company involved increased.

Respondents were given a list of ten behaviors, five of which involved insurance fraud, and were asked to assess each behavior on a scale ranging from “always wrong” to “not wrong at all.” The behaviors ranged from serious to not too serious. In relation to the 2000 and 2005 surveys, there was a significant decrease in the percentage of respondents who felt the less serious behaviors were “always wrong.” Two behaviors didn’t show any significant change in the “always wrong” category. Those behaviors were working with a doctor to stage phony car accidents with false injuries to get money from insurance and using someone else’s credit card.

The Internet survey was conducted among 400 Virginia residents in all regions of the state during June and July, 2013. Previous studies were conducted in a telephone interview format. The survey has a maximum statistical error of plus or minus 4.9 percent.

For a copy of the executive summary go to www.stampoutfraud.com and click on Research, or contact Pamela Jewell, public relations manager for the Insurance Fraud Program, at Pamela.Jewell@vsp.virginia.gov or (804) 674-2777.