Tag Archives: GEICO

Geico Sues Florida Health Clinic for ‘Unnecessary’ Massage Claims

As reported by Law360, Geico sued Medical Wellness Services Inc. of Miami, FL for allegedly making $1.2 million in claims for providing medically unnecessary treatments for automobile accident victims who were eligible for coverage under their no-fault insurance policies. According to Geico, some of the claims were for services that were not actually provided and contained billing codes that misrepresented and exaggerated the services.

“The defendants do not now have — and never had — any right to be compensated for the fraudulent services that were billed to Geico through Medical Wellness,” Geico said. Geico claims Medical Wellness Services Inc. submitted claims for massage therapist services which are not reimbursable because Florida law prohibits no-fault insurance reimbursement for massages or other similar services.

According to the suit, the scheme began no later than 2013 and continues to this day. In addition to the request for $1.2 million in damages, Geico is also requesting a declaration from the court saying it will not have to pay any pending fraudulent claims by the health clinic which totals more than $75,000.

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Filed under Auto Insurance Fraud, Florida, Insurance, Insurance Claims, Insurance Defense, Insurance Fraud, Miami-Dade County, Miami-Dade Fraud, Personal Injury Protection, PIP/No Fault

Federal Agents Arrest Participants in Medical Fraud Ring

On August 28, 2016, the Sun Sentinel reported the arrest of two women and a man who were part of a South Florida ring that staged fake car crashes. The ring aimed to defraud insurance companies by charging for massage therapy and chiropractic services to victims that did not need the medical treatment.

The defendants, Guillermo Garcia, 46; Mayre Lopez, 39; and Taymi Gonzalez, 35, were said to have collected more than $1.6 million over a span of two years from different insurance companies, including Allstate Insurance Company, Geico, Infinity, Metlife, Progressive, State Farm and Travelers of Florida. They all pleaded not guilty and are currently awaiting trial.

According to the indictment filed on August 4, the ring began in December 2012 and was carried out until September 2014 in Miami-Dade and other areas of South Florida. The indictment stated that the defendants had conspired to send fraudulent information and billing through the mail to auto insurance companies for alleged medical treatment from the clinic, Rehabilitation Tomasa.

According to the indictment, Gonzalez, Lopez and Garcia not only helped prepare fraudulent claims to insurance companies to validate treatment at Tomasa but also took part in training the ‘victims’ on what they should say to insurance representatives to deflect suspicion. The indictment stated, “ Garcia, Lopez and Gonzalez would deposit the checks into bank accounts they controlled and then convert the proceeds to cash in order to pay the recruiters, accident participants and clinic employees, and to enrich themselves.”

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Filed under Florida, Insurance, Insurance Defense, Insurance Fraud

GEICO Files RICO Suit Alleging Windshield Repair Fraud

A federal lawsuit filed by GEICO on June 9 provides an inside look at an elaborate windshield repair fraud scheme.

The suit, filed in the Middle District of Florida, makes claims of fraud, unjust enrichment and RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) violations against at least two companies and their owners.

The complaint explained the scheme as follows:

A company called Cornerstone Mobile paid kickbacks to car dealerships and car wash companies to work off their properties. Cornerstone would offer to fix even the slightest damage to windshields for free. It would obtain the car owner’s insurance information and, more importantly, the owner’s signature to transfer assignment of benefits. Sometimes, GEICO alleges, the Cornerstone owners would steal insurance information from glove boxes of cars and forge the owners’ signature.

Eventually, Cornerstone Network was incorporated. The two entities had separate tax identification numbers but operated in an identical manner. GEICO says the two companies were used in hopes of reducing the number of fraudulent claims from Cornerstone Network alone, and thus avoid detection. Both companies claimed to do windshield repairs, but neither had a physical address—one was just a post office box in Tavernier.

Once Cornerstone got insurance information from automobile owners, the employees used a liquid formula from a window repair kit to coat over cracks and chips. Afterward, Cornerstone charged GEICO and other insurers for a full windshield replacement. The complaint alleges that Cornerstone would wait two to four weeks to file for reimbursement. Florida law allows insurers 30 days to make windshield replacement reimbursements, meaning GEICO was rushed to pay the claims on time and didn’t have a chance to investigate them.

GEICO presented exhibits showing more than 600 fraudulent windshield claims from each Cornerstone company, costing GEICO in excess of $223,000.

The case is Government Employees Insurance Company, et al. v. Jason Fry, et. al.

Click here for full story.

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Filed under Auto Insurance Fraud, Florida, Florida Division of Insurance Fraud, Insurance, Insurance Fraud, Middle District of Florida, Windshield Damage Scam

GEICO Sues Medical Providers Over $5.7M In False Claims

According to an August 18, 2015, Law360 article, GEICO General Insurance Co.  has filed suit against several alleged fraudulent medical companies and their owners for over $5.74 million in paid and pending claims for various medical and physical therapy services provided to auto accident victims in New York.

GEICO is claiming that the individuals running the fraudulent scheme bought medical licenses from doctors and used them to make several medical providers appear legitimate. GEICO is asking the court to recover $2.74 million in no-fault insurance claims that the company has already paid into the alleged scheme and is seeking a judgement that the company does not have to pay the $3 million it still owes.

GEICO is arguing that it should not be required to pay the $3 million it still owes because the providers were fraudulently incorporated and illegally owned by nonmedical professionals.  The services provided in scheme were done by unlicensed independent contractors, and the billing codes for the services provided were misrepresented and exaggerated to inflate the submitted charges.

The suit names the following companies:

  • LLJ Therapeutic Services PT PC
  • Dunamis Rehab PT PC
  • Synoptic Physical Therapy PC
  • Rehab Choice Corp.
  • NR Motion PT PC
  • Rehabxpress PT PC
  • Rom Medical PC

Click here for full story (subscription required).

www.roiglawyers.com

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Filed under Auto Insurance Fraud

Tampa PIP Fraud Investigation Results in Seven Arrests

An office manager who acted as a patient broker as well as her six patient recruits were recently arrested on insurance fraud charges by the Florida Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF) after a two-year investigation uncovered suspicious insurance claims made by the individuals.

According to a story in the Tampa Tribune, Minette St. Fleur, 50, paid individuals to pose as patients injured in car accidents. The complex scheme, which was centered at Integrated Healing Clinic in Tampa, involved these patients filing fraudulent claims to multiple insurance agencies for their bogus injuries. Prices paid for treatments, some of which never occurred, greatly exceeded actual costs and totaled more than $150,000 in fraudulent claims, DIF found.

The scam was directed at GEICO Insurance Company, 21st Century Insurance, Progressive, Safeco Insurance, State Farm Insurance and Liberty Mutual Insurance. GEICO initially noted some patients repeatedly visited the clinic for many different treatments and that some dates on clinic paperwork did not match the dates on the filing of claims. The company brought the suspicious activity to the attention of DIF who began their investigation.

St. Fleur has been charged with insurance fraud and patient brokering, and was released on $2,000 bond

The others who were arrested for their involvement in the scheme included:

  • Sonthonax Ferdinand, 57
  • Marie Jean Gilles Valcin, 42
  • Marie Celestin, 38
  • Josue Auguste, 42
  • Elisena Louissaint, 48
  • Joseph D Pierre, 39

Hillsborough County State Attorney Mark Ober’s office will prosecute the case.

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Filed under Insurance Fraud

1st DCA Upholds Allstate Use of Medical Fee Schedules

In an opinion filed March 18, 2015, Florida’s First District Court of Appeal held that language in an Allstate Insurance Co. policy gave sufficient notice to an assignee of its election to use Medicare fee schedules to limit benefit reimbursements under a PIP policy. Stand-Up MRI of Tallahassee, an assignee of 14 named insureds, sued Allstate in county court, contending that Allstate’s alleged failure to give adequate notice was contrary to the Florida Supreme Court’s decision in Geico v. Virtual Imaging. The trial court agreed with Stand-Up MRI and certified a question of great public importance to the Appellate Court.

In Virtual Imaging, as here, an MRI provider had supplied services and then disputed the insurer’s authority to limit reimbursements under Medicare fee schedules. Pursuant to the Florida PIP statute, automobile insurers are required to provide PIP coverage for 80 percent of all “reasonable expenses” for medically necessary services.

The dispute here centers on whether Allstate’s policy language provided adequate notice of its election to limit reimbursements via the Medicare fee schedules or if, as Stand-Up MRI contends, the policy fails because it is ambiguous. Allstate points to the following language in the policy as having satisfied the Virtual Imaging notice requirement:

In accordance with the Florida Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law, [Allstate] will pay to or on behalf of the injured person the following benefits. . . .

Medical Expenses

Eighty percent of reasonable expenses for medically necessary … services. …

Any amounts payable under this coverage shall be subject to any and all limitations, authorized by section 627.736, or any other provisions of the Florida Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law, as enacted, amended or otherwise continued in the law, including, but not limited to, all fee schedules.

The appellate court agreed with Allstate, concluding that the policy gives sufficient notice of its election to limit reimbursements by use of the fee schedules. In making its decision, the court pointed to language in the policy stating that reimbursements “shall” be subject to the limitations of §627.736, including “all fee schedules.”

Section 627.736(5)(a) 2 refers to Medicare fee schedule-based limitations and provides that insurers “may limit reimbursement to 80 percent of the … schedule of maximum charges.” Thus, concluded the court, the notice requirement was satisfied by Allstate’s language limiting “any amounts payable” to the fee schedule-based limitations found in the statute.

Furthermore, the court also distinguished the language in Allstate’s policy from that found deficient in Virtual Imaging. There, the Florida Supreme Court concluded that Geico’s policy failed to “indicate in any way” that it intended to limit its reimbursement amounts using the fee schedules. Here, Allstate’s policy expressly limits reimbursements by “all fee schedules” in the statute, satisfying the Virtual Imaging notice requirement.

Stand-Up MRI also contended that Allstate’s use of the phrase “subject to . . . all fee schedules” fails to provide sufficient notice that reimbursements will always be limited by the fee schedules, arguing that “subject to” means only that Allstate had the option to limit reimbursements per the Medicare fee schedule , not that it would so limit reimbursements. The court, however, found no such ambiguity, stating that the language of the policy makes reimbursements subordinate to the fee schedule in “rather unmistakable terms.”

In sum, the court concluded that Allstate’s policy language gave legally sufficient notice to its insureds of its election to use the Medicare fee schedules as required by Virtual Imaging. The trial court’s decision was reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings.

The cases cited are listed below for reference.

Allstate Fire and Casualty Ins. v. Stand-Up MRI of Tallahassee, Case No. 1D14-1213, et al., 1st DCA Fla. (March 18, 2015).

Geico Gen. Ins. Co. v. Virtual Imaging Servs. Inc., 141 So. 3d 147 (Fla. 2013).

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Filed under Fla. Stat. 627.736 (2012), The Statutory "Fee Schedules"

Third DCA Rules for Insurer in GEICO v. Gables Insurance Recovery

In an opinion issued December 10, 2014 in the case of GEICO v. Gables Insurance Recovery (a/a/o Rita M. Lauzan), the Third District Court of Appeal quashed a Circuit Court Appellate Division’s decision affirming final judgment in favor of Gables Insurance.

Lauzan, who was insured by GEICO, was injured in an automobile accident in 2008. After obtaining medical treatment, she assigned her GEICO policy benefits to All X-Ray Diagnostic Services, which subsequently assigned the benefits to Gables Insurance.

GEICO paid less than the amount it had been billed, and Gables Insurance filed a breach of contract action against GEICO. GEICO argued that Lauzan’s $10,000 PIP benefits had been exhausted and that it therefore had no further liability to Gables.

Deciding in GEICO’s favor, the Third District Court of Appeal held that the PIP statute does not require an insurer to pay more than the $10,000 limit in PIP coverage. Further, it does not require an insurer to “set aside” funds in anticipation of litigation. The Court noted that two other District Courts of Appeal have addressed the issue, holding that a showing of bad faith or impropriety on the part of the insurer is required before it can be held liable for benefits above the statutory limit.

Quoting a recent Fourth District Court of Appeal case, Northwoods v. State Farm, the Court concluded that once PIP benefits are exhausted, “an insurer has no further liability on unresolved, pending claims, absent bad faith in the handling of the claim by the insurance company.”

The case is GEICO Indemnity Co. v. Gables Insurance Recovery (a/a/o Rita M. Lauzan), Case No. 3D13-2264 (Fla. 3rd DCA, December 10, 2014). Click on the link to read the court opinion.

The case cited is Northwoods Sports Medicine v. State Farm, 137 So. 3d 1049 (Fla. 4th DCA 2014).

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Filed under Case Law, Fla. Stat. 627.736 (2008)

Broward Staged Accident Results in Five PIP Fraud Arrests

Five individuals were recently arrested for their involvement in an alleged staged accident that took place in Broward in July 2012, according to an announcement by Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater.

The five, who were arrested on grand theft and insurance fraud charges, carried out the alleged scam which resulted in fraudulent Personal Injury Protection (PIP) claims costing almost $40,000. Officials say a sixth individual is associated with the crime as well but has yet to be apprehended.

Investigators with the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF) said that the five participated in the alleged crash as vehicle passengers. Shortly after the accident, they sought medical treatment at several South Florida clinics for bogus injuries. GEICO, Ocean Harbor and Gainsco insurance companies received fraudulent PIP claims as a result of the scam.

Those arrested include: Alfredo Romero, 66, of Hollywood; Alice Martinez, 27, of Pembroke Pines; and Jose Rodas, 33, Whitney Lopez, 25, and Mirna Madrid, 37, all of Fort Lauderdale. Alfredo Romero was also arrested in July 2014 for his role in another Broward County staged accident.

The cases will be prosecuted by the Broward State Attorney’s Office.

Mario Ruiz, 32, of Fort Lauderdale is the sixth individual currently wanted in connection with this crime. Anyone with information regarding his whereabouts is asked to contact DIF at 1-800-378-0445 or the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. Citizens may remain anonymous.

The Department of Financial Services to date has awarded almost $349,000 to nearly 60 citizens as part of its Anti-Fraud Reward Program. The program rewards individuals up to $25,000 for information that directly leads to an arrest and conviction in an insurance fraud scheme.

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Filed under Fla. Stat. 627.736 (2008), Insurance Fraud

Hollywood Couple Arrested for Filing a Fraudulent Stolen Vehicle Insurance Claim

Miguel and Francheska Quintero were recently arrested when it was found they allegedly arranged to have their vehicle removed from their home while they were away, in order to report it missing and subsequently make an insurance claim on the supposed stolen vehicle.

CFO Jeff Atwater announced the arrest of the Hollywood couple after an investigation by the Department of Financial Services’ Division on Insurance Fraud uncovered the plot.

On the day of the alleged theft, reports show that Miguel Quintero told Hollywood police that his 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe was locked and parked outside his home before it was stolen. The following day, Francheska Quintero filed a stolen vehicle report with GEICO insurance.

However, Quintero’s neighbor made a statement disclosing that he called Quintero on the phone to alert him about ‘two men’ who were attempting to start the Tahoe on the day of the theft.  According to the neighbor, Quintero told him that he was aware of the activity and tried to dissuade him from calling police by saying, “you don’t know anything about this.” The neighbor confirmed that he saw the two men successfully jumpstart the vehicle and drive it away.

Prior to Quintero filing the police report, a Doral police officer noted an abandoned vehicle parked off the road, and later research revealed that the vehicle was owned by Quintero.

At the time of the theft last July, the couple supposedly owed $35,173 on the vehicle loan and was three months behind on car payments.

Francheska and Miguel Quintero were arrested and transported to the Broward County Jail.

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Filed under Insurance Fraud

Woman Busted for Insurance Fraud After Collecting Claim Money on a Stolen Car that She Pawned

A Greenacres woman was arrested for insurance fraud involving her car that she reported stolen in 2012.

Palm Beach County court records show that Lindela Edmonds faces charges of insurance fraud and making a false report of a non-existent crime.  She was arrested on January 15.

According to West Palm Beach police, the 44-year old Edmonds pawned her 2007 Toyota Camry at the pawn shop, Queen of Pawns, on February 17, 2012 and received $5,500 for the transaction. The next day, she went to the police and reported her car stolen from a parking lot in the 3100 block of N. Jog Road.

After filing the police report, she filed a loss of vehicle claim with GEICO and collected $12,326 from the insurance company.  But that isn’t the end of the story.

The Queen of Pawns wanted to sell the car because Edmonds had not returned for it a year later.  It was then that police discovered the vehicle was listed as stolen. The pawn transaction receipt is dated the day before Edmonds reported her car stolen, along with a copy of her driver’s license and thumb print.

In addition, the notarized insurance claim is signed by Edmonds. Ironically, her signature appears beneath a warning: “anybody who knowingly defrauds an insurer by using false information is guilty of a felony in the third degree,” the Sun-Sentinel reported.

Edmonds was booked at the Palm Beach County Jail on January 16 and released on $3,000 bond.

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Filed under Insurance Fraud