Jimmy Patronis declares the apprehension of 4 individuals involved in a fraudulent accident insurance benefits scheme

Four men found themselves in the confines of Miami-Dade County lock-up after allegedly orchestrating an insurance scam, contributing to Florida’s status as the state with the third-highest average car insurance rates nationwide.

Bryan Carlos Hernandez, Elvis Fonseca Lauzao, Juan Fonseca Lauzao, and Rusland Rivero Tellez faced charges on May 22 for a range of felonies, as outlined by the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, Jimmy Patronis. These charges included grand theft, organized fraud, false insurance claims, and orchestrating a staged accident to commit insurance fraud.

According to an investigation by the CFO’s Criminal Investigations Division (CID), Miami Field Office, the four men exploited the personal injury protection (PIP) benefits of their insurance policies. They billed Progressive Insurance and National General Insurance after a staged accident on May 12, 2023, in Miami-Dade County, despite no reported injuries.

Patronis emphasized, “If you engage in insurance fraud in Florida, you will be exposed and held accountable,” underscoring the impact of such fraud on insurance markets and the financial burden it places on residents through inflated premiums.

The investigation revealed that the men submitted claims for injuries they never sustained, billing Progressive Insurance over $28,000 from two clinics and National General Insurance over $59,000. Both insurers paid out significant amounts for physical therapy services to which the accused were not entitled.

Patronis commended his insurance fraud detectives for apprehending the individuals and pursuing justice, although challenges persist. Insurify attributes the high cost of Florida car insurance to “severe weather events” and widespread insurance fraud.

While nationally, car insurance costs represent about 2.6% of the median household income, in Florida, it constitutes approximately 4.3%. Florida ranks behind New York and Nevada in insurance costs relative to household income.

Efforts at reform, such as SB 464/HB 653, introduced by Republican legislators, Sen. Erin Grall and Rep. Danny Alvarez, faced committee obstacles. However, bipartisan measures like SB 1002, signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2023, offer hope for reducing insurance premiums and streamlining auto glass claims in the courts.

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