Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey is expanding the department’s criminal investigations division as part of his vision to eliminate insurance fraud in North Carolina.
On Friday, 15 new special agents were sworn – in by State Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jackson as officers to the NCDOI Fraud Control Group – nearly doubling the size of the existing team.
“One of the first things I did when I took office was meet with our criminal investigations division,” said Commissioner Causey. “I learned, because of the vast number of insurance fraud complaints in this state, we were shorthanded on the number of investigators to examine them.”
Each month, North Carolina receives between 400-500 criminal insurance fraud complaints.
In 2017, Commissioner Causey’s first year in office, 334 people were arrested for insurance – related violations – almost 60% more arrests than 2016 under the previous administration. Those arrests resulted in the recovery of approximately $14.1 million.
Insurance fraud costs consumers between 15 and 20 cents of every dollar they spend on insurance premiums.
Because of the enormity of the problem, the North Carolina General Assembly, in 2017, appropriated $2.4 million to hire additional agents in NCDOI’s criminal investigations division including a crime analyst, forensic accountant, attorneys and special agents.
With the addition of the 15 agents, Commissioner Causey is determined to move forward in stemming the tide of insurance fraud to save consumers even more money.
The newly hired agents spent the past week in NCDOI’s Special Agent Academy, training in the classroom and out in the field to learn the best methods for investigating insurance fraud.
North Carolina was the first state in the nation to set up a criminal investigations division within the Department of Insurance. That was 73 years ago, in 1945. Over the years, as the population has grown to more than 10 million people, the Department of Insurance fell behind in keeping up with enough agents to investigate fraud.