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Good Question: How Much Does Insurance Fraud Cost Us?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - More than 100 former New York City workers - including police officers and firefighters - were charged Tuesday with defrauding the disability system.

Some are accused of fishing or doing karate after saying they were too injured or too depressed to work.

Prosecutors say the alleged scams cost the federal government about $400 million.

Every year, Americans pay $1.1 trillion in private insurance premiums, but a big chunk of that money goes to pay out false insurance claims.

The Insurance Information Institute estimates that there's $32 billion per year in property and casualty fraud, while the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud puts the overall fraud estimate at closer to $80 billion a year.

These numbers don't include fraud or excessive fees coming from insurance agents or companies.

Mark Kulda is with the Insurance Federation of Minnesota.

"It's very difficult because it's always an estimate," Kulda said. "You should just kind of bank on about 10 percent of all insurance claims include some sort of insurance fraud."

The FBI says those numbers (excluding health insurance) translate into $400 to $700 in higher premiums for families.

Kulda says that number is likely much higher when figuring in health insurance, as well as the higher costs we pay for goods from businesses and stores who pay for fake claims.

"Every time they pay when they really shouldn't, they just add that to the price of the goods and we all end up paying that," he said.

The Insurance Federation of Minnesota estimates to the cost per family to be closer to $1,400 per year.

"It's an estimate that was generated a number of years ago, and we added inflation to it," Kulda said.

According to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, the top insurance fraud referrals were automobile, health, homeowners, commercial and workers compensation.

The department took in 1,424 referrals in 2012, but prosecuted far fewer.

"It's extremely difficult to prove up a case," Kulda said.

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