Sometimes justice is swift…sometimes it may take a few years. But, one thing is certain – when it does come down – justice can be harsh. If you plan on engaging in car insurance fraud, better be prepared to pay the piper down the road, because the long arm of the law will get you one way or the other. Whether you’re talking about car insurance in Texas or any other state in the nation, it’s only a matter of time.
Just ask Andy Lee House, a 39-year-old Texas man who, in 2009, thought he could get away with it but, instead, he’s now staring at a 20-year stretch in federal prison after pleading guilty to fraud – five years later. House, the owner of one of the fastest, most exclusive and expensive cars in the world, the Italian-supercar Bugatti Veyron, originally purchased the rare marvel of engineering for $1 million. However, alleging it was a collector’s item, he requested it be insured for $2.2 million and was granted the coverage. Obviously, thinking down the road and not worried by the threat of his auto insurance rates going dramatically higher, House concocted a plan to purposely destroy his dream car for the settlement money. Talk about a waste of machinery.
While most of us can only dream of possessing a beautiful car like the Bugatti Veyron, Mister House was dreaming of something else – dollar signs, and coming up with a perfect scenario to defraud his insurance company out of a couple of million dollars. Planning on driving the Bugatti to an untimely, watery death, House decided to head down Interstate-15 and plow the sports car straight into the Gulf of Mexico near La Marque, Texas. Familiar with the area, he knew about the occasional pelicans flying about…so that seemed like a believable cause for the crash of a pristine automobile – blame it on the pelicans.
According to media reports in 2009, House told authorities he was reaching for his cellphone when a “low flying pelican” distracted him and, as he swerved in an effort to avoid it, lost control and accidentally drove the luxury sedan into the gulf. Holding firm to the “pelican defense”, House filed a claim with his insurance company to collect the $2.2 million for the damaged car.
Unfortunately for House, another motorist, a “dreamer” of what could be some day, just happened to be close by, admiring the Bugatti. With his cellphone, he took a video of the fast-moving car moments before it drove into the bay…and later posted the crash on YouTube. The problem with social media is that everybody and his brother will probably eventually see it…and, that includes “Big Brother”.
In Mister House’s case, “Big Brother” involved the FBI, the Texas Rangers and the Police Department in Lufkin (where House lives). All three investigated the crash and, when the video was viewed…not only were there no pelicans anywhere in sight…but, authorities say House intentionally left the motor of the Bugatti running for 15 minutes after entering the water, causing irreparable damage to its massively powerful engine, and assuring the entire vehicle would be declared a total loss.
House might have gotten away with it had it not been for a YouTube video of his ill-conceived scheme and the lack of pelicans in the air that day. Sadly, House is only a small part of a much larger problem. It’s estimated that fraud costs the insurance industry in the neighborhood of $30 billion annually – and that directly translates into higher car insurance premiums for all of us.
Do you have a story about car insurance fraud to tell? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.