As the COVID-19 health crisis continues in the United States, a number of insurers have already seen a significant increase in claim activity. This includes not only business interruption claims but also a significant increase in property claims. Unfortunately, one of the effects of any downturn in the economy will always include an increase in suspicious or fraudulent claims. Such claims will include intentionally-caused losses (for example, arson claims) and overstated claims.
Lether Law Group has already been retained in regard to a number of commercial arson fires involving businesses that were shut down due to the health crisis. We also expect that we will see a number of overstated claims in the homeowner and commercial markets.
Tom Lether began his career in 1988 primarily as an arson and insurance fraud lawyer. Over the last 32 years he has taken thousands of Examinations Under Oath, coordinated thousands of investigations, and has successfully tried a number of arson and fraud claims. This includes such claims as the Martin Pang fire loss where four Seattle firefighters were killed (still one of the most significant commercial arson losses in Washington State history), and residential arson and fraud claims such as the Martin Manglona case (the most significant homeowner’s arson fraud claim in Washington State history).
There are a number of techniques and specific skills involved with investigating fraudulent claims. Fortunately for insurers in the Northwest, the case law in the Northwest is very favorable for insurers in regard to these issues.
Lether Law Group expects that we will see a continued increase in the need to conduct Examinations Under Oath, coordinate claims investigations, defend insurers in fraudulent claims, and address any extra-contractual claims which result from claim denials.
If you are an insurer who is seeing an increase in these types of claims, please feel free to contact us for a free discussion in regard to the applicable law involving these claims, as well as some of the tools available to insurers.