That's why the foundation of the Pennsylvania Insurance Fraud Prevention Authority's new public education and prevention campaign was built upon research. In December of 2008, the Floyd Institute Center for Opinion Research of Franklin and Marshall College was asked to survey a representative sample of Pennsylvanians in order to assess four areas:
- their current knowledge of the behaviors that constitute insurance fraud
- their knowledge of the risks and consequences for committing insurance fraud
- the individuals’ likelihood to consider committing insurance fraud
- respondents’ level of interest in learning more about insurance fraud
The most significant findings of the study were:
- Knowledge about insurance fraud itself was minimal. Only one in six respondents was knowledgeable about how insurance fraud is classified and defined. Even fewer understand that insurance fraud is a felony, and unfortunately, not many Pennsylvanians are interested in learning more about the topic of insurance fraud.
- Many Pennsylvanians did not believe insurance fraud is a serious crime. Only 12% categorized insurance fraud as one of the most serious types of crimes and only 25% said they were likely to report someone who was committing it.
- Most Pennsylvania residents—nearly seven in ten – stated strongly they would never consider committing insurance fraud. These respondents said they could “never” be tempted to defraud insurers, no matter what type of scenario they were presented. This is encouraging, but in a state with more than 12 million residents, this percentage suggested that about 2.5 million might consider committing the crime.1
- Almost all Pennsylvanians believed that insurance fraud perpetrators rarely get caught. An extremely low number (3%) reported “strongly believing” those who commit insurance fraud will be discovered and apprehended.2
Follow Up Research
The underlying foundation of our fraud prevention strategy is that the more consumers know about the seriousness of insurance fraud and its consequences, the less likely they are to commit it. So, are Pennsylvanians learning from the campaign, and if so, what are they learning?
In December of 2010, 16 months after the launch of the new campaign, the Floyd Institute Center for Opinion Research of Franklin and Marshall College again surveyed a representative sample of Pennsylvanians in order to assess if and/or how their attitudes about insurance fraud had changed since the previous study was conducted.
The study, which surveyed 1,000 Pennsylvania adults during October and November 2010, found that more Pennsylvanians are beginning to understand the seriousness of the crime, and that Pennsylvania is indeed, to quote the campaign’s commercials, “cracking down” on insurance fraud:
- The number of consumers who "strongly agree" that insurance fraud is classified with the most serious types of crime increased by 33 percent.
- The number of consumers reporting an accurate understanding of how insurance fraud is classified (a felony) and defined (a lie told to unlawfully gain benefits from an insurance company) increased by 18 percent.
- Consumer awareness that insurance companies are using sophisticated technology to detect insurance fraud increased by 19 percent.3
A new study conducted in January 2013 shows that Pennsylvanians’ understanding of insurance fraud and its consequences have continued to increase since the launch of a statewide awareness campaign in 2009. More Pennsylvanians know what insurance fraud is, the seriousness of the crime, and that there are risks and consequences.
The statewide study, conducted by the Floyd Institute Center for Opinion Research of Franklin and Marshall College, surveyed 1,000 Pennsylvania adults to ascertain attitudes and awareness about insurance fraud. The study found that the number of consumers who “strongly agree” that insurance fraud is classified with the most serious types of crime has increased by 58 percent since the initial baseline study.
The study also found that the number of consumers reporting an accurate understanding of how insurance fraud is classified (a felony) and defined (a lie told to unlawfully gain benefits from an insurance company) has increased by 41 percent. Consumer belief that offenders will get caught has increased by 160 percent.4
The consistent methodology of these three independently conducted studies has helped the program reliably track a consistent growth in consumer awareness that our initial research uncovered as essential to prevention.