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There has been a significant increase in a number of different types of fraud in the last several years, and experts in the insurance industry say that they have not been immune to the trend.

The number of questionable insurance claims made over the course of 2012 was up 26.7 percent from the total observed two years earlier, according to new data from the National Insurance Crime Bureau. In all, there were 116,268 such claims made in 2012, establishing a new record, which was up from both the 100,450 observed in 2011, and 91,797 in 2010.

Specifically, questionable claims are made up of those sent to the NICB from its member institutions for review because the members suspected that it could constitute some sort of fraud, the report said. The type of potentially fraudulent claim that saw the biggest percentage increase in the last two years came in the property category, in which suspicious disappearance/loss of jewelry rose 86 percent. Meanwhile, the largest increase in actual claims came for suspicious theft/loss not including vehicles, as there were 10,680 such claims referred, up from just 7,152 the year before.

Claims involving vehicles being hit while parked constituted the top claims for automotive reasons, at 5,006 such referrals, the report said. Hail damage was a distant second at 1,505 claims.

In all, the list of states in which the most suspicious claims were filed was topped by California, at 21,935, nearly 19 percent of all claims filed nationwide, the report said. Florida and Texas were neck-and-neck to make the top three, at 10,693 and 10,368, respectively. New York (9,059) and Maryland (4,296) were also in the top five.

However, the organization also notes that while there have been increases in the number of potentially fraudulent claims made with insurers during the past two years, these constitute an incredibly small fraction of the number of claims filed overall on an annual basis, the report said. For instance, though 116,268 in 2012 was an all-time high, it constituted just 0.2 percent of the more than 56 million claims filed with its member agencies throughout the 12-month period.

Fraud can come in any number of forms, but the kind that affects consumers most identity theft. Taking care to safeguard sensitive data related to finances or personal information is of the utmost importance in protecting oneself from this type of crime.

Image: iStockphoto

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