Residents Of Large Cities Found More Prone To Claims Exaggeration And Burying Of Deductible.

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OAK BROOK, III. -- The 1993 Public Attitude Monitor just released by the Insurance Research Council, reporting on a new survey of 2,000 Americans conducted by Roper Starch Worldwide, concludes that one in five persons believes it is OK to pad an insurance claim. The survey even found that the attitude is far more pronounced for residents of New York. New Jersey or Pennsylvania.

Specifically, the survey found that while 19 percent of all Americans agreed it was all right to pad a claim to make up for premiums paid in previous years, the percentage zoomed to 46 percent of all residents of large cities and 41 percent for the three states.

Results were similar when the issue was padding a claim to get out of paying a collision deductible, IRC said in the Monitor. Overall, the survey found, 22 percent said the practice was acceptable while the percentage went up to 43 for the large cities and 39 for the Middle Atlantic states of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

What the survey confirms, said Donald Segraves, executive director of IRC, is that some regions "are more tolerant of cheating their insurer.'"

In addition, Segraves said, more large-city residents than other Americans believe it acceptable to allow a doctor or lawyer to submit bills relating to medical treatment not received in order to get a higher insurance settlement. About one in four large-city residents, 23 percent, said the practice was acceptable. Seventeen percent of Middle Atlantic residents agreed, versus 6 percent of Americans overall. In the Mountain states, 13 percent accepted the idea. In other regions. 5 percent or less did.

The results point to a stubborn problem, one more extensive than outright fraud: exaggerating a claim to boost a settlement. Insurers call it buildup. It's a big reason auto insurance rates are climbing in many areas. Segraves said.

'"Out-and-out fraud where somebody fakes an accident and baldly tries to cheat an insurer is a big problem." Segraves said. "But our surveys, and others. show build-up is an even bigger contributor to rising auto insurance premiums."

The way the pollsters approached respondents was not in the form of a question, but rather a statement, and they offered a variety of levels of agreement...

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