Any effort to change what people think or how they act with regard to insurance fraud needs to be based on a clear understanding of what those existing attitudes are.
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 are:
- First, knowledge about insurance fraud itself is 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.
- Second, many Pennsylvanians do 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.
- Third, 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 over 12 million residents, this percentage suggests that about 2.5 million might consider committing the crime.
- Finally, almost all Pennsylvanians believe 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.
U.S. Census, “Pennsylvania Population Estimates by Age and Sex: April 2000 to July 1, 2002.”
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 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.