Cascade Auto Glass Pleads Guilty to Attempted Insurance Fraud; Allegedly
Billed Farmers from Non-Existent Office
May 18, 2010
Cascade Auto Glass, which is based in Vancouver, Wash., has pleaded
guilty to attempted insurance fraud for allegedly attempting to
bill Farmers Insurance from a non-existent office that actually
was just a storage unit located in a rural area, according to the
Washington State Insurance Commissioner's office. The commissioner's
office had filed a complaint against Cascade in King County (Wash.)
According to Rich Roesler, a spokesperson for the Washington State
Insurance Commissioner, Safelite Solutions, acting as glass claims
administrator for Farmers, discovered the irregularity.
"Safelite is the one who contacted the insurer to raise the
issue," Roesler told glassBYTEs.com/AGRR magazine.
Farmers was the only company involved in the investigation, according
"That's the only one we investigated," he said. "That
doesn't mean that others weren't involved, but in cases like this
we typically focus on the biggest company."
Roesler said the state reviewed 3,031 claims filed between June
1, 2000, and November 17, 2008; however, he said he didn't have
a breakdown of how many of those were fraudulent.
Though in many past cases auto glass companies have been required
to pay restitution to the insurers involved in such cases, in this
case, Roesler said it is up to Farmers whether restitution is sought.
"In this case we're going to leave that to the insurer,"
he said. "That wasn't part of the settlement. If the insurer
wants to, they're welcome to go after them civilly."
Roesler said the corporation itself pled guilty to the attempted
fraud charge as part of a plea bargain-and therefore weren't charged
with actual fraud. The company will pay a $1,000 fine, $500 victim
penalty assessment and $200 in court costs.
Officials from Cascade Auto Glass advised glassBYTEs.com/AGRR
magazine in a written statement that the charges were the result
of "a long-running dispute with an insurance carrier over pricing
and billing practices."
"Cascade originally filed a claim against the carrier for the
underpayment of invoices," writes the company in statement
provided by Cascade vice president Paul Sharkey. "For quite
some time, Cascade and this carrier disagreed with one another about
the amounts that should be billed and paid for automobile glass
replacement. After many years of litigation, Cascade and the carrier
were able to amicably resolve their dispute and conclude the lawsuit
that was pending in Clark County Superior Court."
However, company officials say during the course of the suit, the
complaint from the insurance commissioner's office arose.
"Although Cascade and the carrier settled the dispute outside
of court, the insurance commissioner charged Cascade with a misdemeanor
relating to the billing dispute," writes the company. "While
we at Cascade firmly believe that we did nothing illegal, we have
chosen to plead guilty to the charge in order to put this matter
behind us. There is no need for either company to undergo that expense
nor is there a need for the taxpayers of Washington to have their
financial resources expended in a trial over these issues."
HERE for full text of statement from Cascade.
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