DeLuca condemns BuzzFeed story accusing insurers, police of working together to falsely prosecute customers for profit

HARRISBURG, Aug. 23 – In response to a BuzzFeed News story that claims major home and auto insurers around the country have urged law enforcement to intimidate and prosecute customers to boost company profits and avoid paying claims, state Rep. Tony DeLuca, Democratic chairman of the House Insurance Committee, released the following statement:

“The accusations, and I reiterate, the accusations made by this news organization claiming the existence and use of a co-opt plan by major insurance companies and law enforcement to falsely prosecute insurers to boost company profits – which, as a result, pay police salaries – are unfounded and false.

“As Democratic chairman of the House Insurance Committee, I work closely and am in-tune with the rules, regulations and practices upheld by the state’s Insurance Department. The department would never tolerate actions that suggest the insurance industry is misusing fraud reporting, and it surely would act if brought to its attention.

“Moreover, the Insurance Fraud Prevention Authority was enacted to assist insurers in reporting fraud, not tear down the system. This story suggests the opposite, claiming the relationship between insurers and law enforcement in Pennsylvania goes deeper than arresting and prosecuting criminals who deceptively steal money from state residents. This, among others, is another false accusation made on behalf of this news organization.

“In 2018, there were 207 convictions for insurance fraud in Pennsylvania. This news story selected 27 cases nationwide over the course of several years to support its claim, which to me is not a strong source of information for a story of this magnitude.

“If insurers used the coercive nature described in this article, which the state Insurance Department outright denies is taking place in Pennsylvania, severe civil penalties would be enforced.

“I will say this, though: One malicious prosecution for insurance fraud is too many, and there is no place in the state of Pennsylvania for such a practice. But a reduction or dismissal in a charge does not automatically indicate that someone was maliciously prosecuted, which again was suggested in this story.

“The FBI reports that insurance fraud costs each American $400 to $700 annually. That’s real money. Falsely accusing the state Insurance Department and those who have worked diligently to keep money in residents’ pockets is something I can’t stand by. Due to this, I want to express my unwavering support for the department and the law enforcement officials tasked with bringing these criminals to justice, and to also note my strong opposition to the accusations made in this story.”