COVID-19 Insurance Fraud & Scams
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has made many major changes in the world and your personal life. You may be feeling vulnerable after losing your job, getting sick or caring for a loved one with COVID-19. Unfortunately, some people wish to take advantage of this vulnerability to profit. Organizations such as the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud and National Insurance Crime Bureau are warning consumers to watch out for insurance fraud and scams that are exploiting COVID-19 to make a profit.
Is COVID-19 Insurance Real?
For the most part, anything asserting itself as COVID-19 insurance is a scam. Thousands of fraudulent insurance schemes have cropped up since the start of the pandemic, all promising insurance for some type of COVID-19 coverage. The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud states that these scams may promise health insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, car insurance or business insurance.
Although insurance does exist to cover COVID-19 related perils, insurance companies generally will not contact you with cold calls or emails to offer COVID-19 insurance. Instead, you will need to contact your existing insurance providers to ask about coverage. Call your health insurance company, for example, to ask about the coverage on your policy in connection to care necessary for COVID-19. If you had to miss work due to COVID-19, contact your employer’s workers’ compensation company for possible coverage. Do not trust any alleged insurance agent who contacts you to offer COVID-19 coverage.
Common Types of Scams
Scammers are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic and using people’s fears and concerns as a tool to get what they want. These fraudsters can use many different tactics to convince victims to give out their personal information, such as Social Security numbers, credit card numbers or medical information. Be on the lookout for some of the most common COVID-19 insurance scams.
- Offering ultra-low-priced COVID-19 insurance
- Asking you to click a link from your email (to load malware)
- Giving you a toll-free number to call about insurance
- Providing free COVID-19 vaccines (that do not exist) or at-home tests
- Telling you your insurance policy has been canceled and you must pay to reinstate
- An auto shop charging extra fees for “cleaning” or “sanitizing” due to COVID-19
- Claiming to have travel insurance for COVID-19 for a canceled trip
- Advertising fake or fraudulent health care facilities
- Going door-to-door to sell COVID-19 tests or vaccines
COVID-19 scammers have been contacting people through robocalls, regular phone calls, text messages, email and even in person. Many claim to be real insurance companies. They have targeted consumers of all ages to pitch fake COVID-19 insurance deals; however, they appear to be contacting senior citizens with insurance scams more often than others. Some victims have paid insurance premiums only to discover later that they never received any coverage. Others have had their identities stolen after giving away personal information.
Tips for Avoiding Scams
Be vigilant when it comes to avoiding COVID-19 insurance scams. Ignore phone calls from unknown numbers. Do not click on emails from unknown senders. If the sender appears to be authentic, such as the name of your insurance company, carefully check the sender’s full email address. The address should match that of your actual insurance company or agent, with no variations. Ignore all pitches for COVID-19 at-home tests or vaccinations. They do not exist. Do not buy into any insurance deals that seem too good to be true. Never provide any personal information to an unknown or untrusted source.
What to Do If You’ve Been Scammed
If you have fallen prey to a COVID-19 insurance scam, report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission. You can also submit an official complaint to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud. Write down as much information as you can about the scam, including documenting how much money you lost, if any. Then, contact a local insurance attorney for assistance. An attorney may be able to investigate the scam and pinpoint the culprit. Your lawyer may then be able to file a civil damage claim to reimburse you for your losses.