Insurance fraud occurs when people deceive an insurance company in order to collect money to which they are not entitled. This particular fraud is a crime in all fifty states, and the majority of the states have established fraud bureaus to identify and investigate fraud incidents. In most states, fraudulent claims can be either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the nature and extent of the fraud committed. Certain types of fraud, such as health care fraud, are also crimes under federal law.
Fraudulent insurance claims affect society as a whole, not just insurance companies, and for that reason, it is punished harshly. According to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, fraud schemes steal at least 80 billion dollars per year in the United States. The costs are ultimately borne by policyholders and consumers, because insurance companies charge higher premiums to cover their losses from fraud. Individual and business premium rates go up, and businesses often pass along the increased costs to their consumers.