COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — With insurance fraud complaints on the rise in South Carolina, state lawmakers are taking a closer look at the issue.

According to the state Department of Insurance (DOI), the department received a record number of fraud complaints last year. Due to this increased fraud activity, they estimate the average South Carolinian has to shoulder an extra $1,000 a year.

In response to this trend, a legislative committee has been formed to look into the problem and explore legislative solutions.

The Ad-Hoc committee met for the first time this week, they heard from DOI and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED). 

DOI officials said in 2022, they recorded over 3,100 fraud reports from across the state. So far in 2023, they’ve already received more 3,000 reports.

Insurance Fraud Division Director Joshua Underwood said nearly half of these fraudulent claims pertain to automobile insurance. Officials said some of the common cases range from individuals falsifying their county of residence to staging fake accidents.

Underwood told lawmakers more manpower is needed to tackle this issue. 

“I think more resources are eventually going to be needed to properly attack this problem. We have a disproportionate amount of fraud happening in South Carolina,” Underwood said.

Of the 3,100 fraud claims reported last year, approximately half were forwarded to SLED for further investigation. SLED Chief Mark Keel emphasized their focus on cases involving rings or repeat offenders.

“We’re trying to focus on those cases that involve a ring, somebody who’s been involved in multiple frauds,” he said. 

Officials said right now, South Carolina currently has only about five agents dedicated to investigating insurance fraud, significantly fewer than neighboring states.

To address this pressing issue, the ad-hoc committee aims to collaborate with various agencies in the upcoming months.