Legislation aimed at addressing insurance fraud issues was heard this week in the Commerce Committee. Currently, Minnesota has one of the highest rates of insurance fraud in the country, costing the average family more than $1400 a year in higher insurance premiums, and higher costs of goods and services purchased from businesses that also suffer from fraud.
The legislation has three components. Current law allows for the immediate release of accident report information to third parties. The first piece of the bill adds a 30-day restriction period before accident report information can be released to third parties, with exceptions for individuals listed on the report, insurance providers, and other relevant parties. The second provision enables the Commerce Department to bring civil penalty charges against fraudulent actors. Lastly, the bill gives the Commissioner of Commerce or another relevant licensing body the authority to remove a medical provider’s authorization to receive insurance payments if they are found to have committed fraud.
Several other states have enacted similar provisions to help curb fraud, and proponents maintain that this legislation is an important step in anti-fraud work in Minnesota. The legislation has the support of the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the Coalition against Insurance Fraud, All State and American Family Insurance, and the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office.
During the Committee hearing, several concerns were raised around the legislation. The 30-day “cooling off” period could place obstacles in the way for people who need information to process claims. Additionally, the civil penalties suggested for fraud were much discussed. The bill was laid over and will be taken up again on Monday. (S.F. 782)