Three ways of reducing your client’s risk of false slip-and-fall claims Canadian Underwriter
Installing video systems, keeping an eye out for obstructions on the property and asking claimants for all names they have used in the past are among the techniques your clients can use to protect themselves from fraudulent slip-and-fall claims.
Slip and fall claims are those involving a person slipping (or tripping) and falling due to a hazard allegedly created by the negligence of the property owner or tenant, the United States National Insurance Crime Bureau said in a recent report.
“This type of claim can be fraudulent when it is an orchestrated event where the individual creates a false and potentially dangerous scenario with the specific intent to stage a fall for monetary gain,” said the NICB.
In its Slip and Fall Questionable Claims Report released Jan. 5, the Des Plaines, Ill.-based NICB analyzed 6,471 slip-and-fall claims that were referred to NIBC by its members because they considered those claims to be questionable.
NICB noted several factors that could indicate a slip and fall claim is questionable in its report. One possible indicator is the accident is not typical of those seen on a regular basis.
Other possible indicators could be:
- The claimant threatens to go to an attorney if the claim is not quickly settled;
- The claimant is a transient or out-of-towner on vacation;
- The claimant lists their address as a post office box or hotel;
- The presence of an “overly enthusiastic” witness at the scene; and
- The claimant seeks treatment at a provider far from where they live.
NICB gave several examples of how a fraudulent claim could work, such as when two people enter a department store and split up. One person waits until they are alone, takes a bottle of liquid from a bag, pours it on the floor “falls” in the liquid. The second person then runs to the aid of the first person and calls for assistance while telling everyone they “witnessed” the fall.
A fraudster might also take advantage of a broken or obstructed sidewalk or stairway, said NICB. “A person may claim to have tripped over a child’s toy left on a stairway and then sue the homeowner for damages.”
NICB has investigated nearly 12,000 questionable slip and fall claims since 2015.
“The high rate of questionable slip and fall claims impacting commercial insurance policies indicates a majority of these claims are occurring at retail stores, parking lots, or restaurants,” NICB said in a release.
“For business owners and homeowners, keep common areas clear of any hazards that could result in a fall. In retail stores, aggressive employee interaction with customers will make it more difficult for scammers to set up an accident.”
Feature image via iStock.com/Astrid860