Insurance fraud is a serious criminal charge in New Jersey that can trap a person who, perhaps because of financial distress, makes an error in judgment when filing an insurance claim.

In other cases, even a person’s honest mistakes or non-criminal carelessness can lead to a charge of insurance fraud.

Like many other white collar crimes, a conviction for insurance fraud can have serious professional and personal repercussions, especially for those who happen to work in the insurance industry or in other financial sectors of the economy.

Moreover, even for someone without a criminal history, one act of insurance fraud can land a person in prison for up to 5 years and lead to hefty fines.

In some cases, such as if a person engaged in several acts of insurance fraud as part of an ongoing scheme, the penalties can be more severe.

Insurance fraud covers a wide range of behavior

Most people probably realize that making up an insurance claim out of whole cloth, staging an accident and similar behaviors could lead to a charge of insurance fraud.

But many people might not realize that prosecutors, investigators and insurance companies alike also take common so-called white lies people tell when filing a claim or pursuing coverage very seriously.

For instance, a person who pads a claim by asking for services that are not necessary, double billing or artificially inflating prices can lead to an insurance fraud charge.

Double-dipping, like when a person takes on a side job while drawing workers’ compensation benefits, can lead to charges.

Even omitting information on an application, such as a prior accident or a medical condition, can be insurance fraud.

In short, anyone who deals with insurance companies may at some point find himself or herself rightly or wrongly accused of insurance fraud. In either case, it is important for such a person to know his or her legal options.