MPI had a busy year in 2019 when it came to collisions and fraud.

As of December 7, 2019, there were:

65 fatal collisions on public roads in MB;73 people killed on public roads in MBAt least 15 involve alcohol/drug impairment, about 16 involve speed, and at least 16 were not wearing a seatbelt (including one child restraint not in use). These preliminary counts are likely to change.

As for fraud, MPI announced its top five in a release covering a staged collision, false bodily injury claims, car surfing, an incarcerated man, and a drunk driver exposed by surveillance cameras.

According to MPI's Chief Operating Officer, Curtis Weinberg, "MPI releases its annual top five fraud list to raise awareness about the costs related to auto insurance fraud, about $50 per customer yearly. The list is compiled based on the unique circumstances of each fraud, financial savings to MPI ratepayer, and investigative excellence in unearthing the fraudsters."

1) An investigation was launched after MPI's case manager had difficulties locating and communicating with a Winnipeg man over several months, who claimed to have suffered severe injuries from a motor vehicle collision. The man was receiving income replacement payments of $3,600 monthly.

The man indicated in a letter he needed a "mental break and holiday" and would be "out of touch for several months as he would be staying at a remote cottage in northern Saskatchewan."

It was discovered the man was incarcerated in federal prison.

As this made him ineligible to receive payments, his benefits were terminated, resulting in an estimated savings of around $200,000.

2) A physical damage and theft claim of a pick-up truck was investigated after irregularities in detail. The co-owner admitted to an MPI adjuster they were to last to use the truck, leaving it at a friend's house after a night of partying, and speculated the key fob must have been stolen while he was at the bar.

A surveillance camera located across the street from the crash scene showed the truck being driven erratically into the well-lit parking lot, hitting several vehicles. It also revealed the driver exiting the smashed vehicle, locking it and staggering away.

After watching the surveillance footage, the co-owner withdrew the claim and agreed to pay the damages for the other vehicles.

The resulting claims savings was more than $15,000 to MPI ratepayers.

3) Computers never lie, and a vehicle's internal data recorder led to two Winnipeg men to plead guilty in court to Filing a False Statement to MPI and saving MPI nearly $70,000. The two men opened collision claims that they got into a two-vehicle collision at a rural intersection between a Honda and Jaguar.

Following up due to inconsistencies with the story and the damages, an MPI training and research technician did a data dump of one of the vehicle's on-board computer, which proved the story of missing a stop sign was false.

With this new evidence, the owner of the Honda admitted he had lied about the crash and staged collision in a large storage yard.

Money was the motivating factor.

4) A 34-year-old male filed a bodily injury claim after a hired driver of his car tried to steal the vehicle when he exited to fix the windshield wipers.He sustained injuries scrambling onto the truck during the drive and smashed the back window, trying to gain entry. The vehicle owner claimed he later sustained injuries thrown to the pavement when the car crashed.

Witnesses told police at the crash scene said they had seen a man "laughing" and "hooting" on the roof of the care and seemed to be "car surfing." Based on both witness and police reports, the vehicle had crashed into a parked car, MPI denied the man's claim stating his injuries were the result of his careless and wilful actions.

If the claim had been approved, he would have received income replacement payments.

5) Declaring to have swerved into the ditch to avoid two deer, a woman opened a bodily injury claim. The woman said she was suffering from severe headaches and debilitating neck pain and was physically unable to care for either herself or children, and submitted invoices for childcare expenses, and personal care and receiving income replacement payments.

Although it was confirmed the woman had sustained several injuries, including fractures within her neck region, an investigation was launched based on a call to the TIPS line. Over two weeks, contrary to her claim, she was bedridden, was observed driving her vehicle, shopping, playing VLTs and pushing a double stroller with her two children.

Her benefits were terminated, resulting in claims savings of $23,000. Repayment is also being sought for the nearly $10,000 paid to the woman for personal care expenses.

MPI encourages anyone with information about auto insurance fraud to call the Manitoba Public Insurance TIPS Line: 204-985-8477 or toll-free 1-877-985-8477. All calls are anonymous.

By the end of November 2019, nearly 1,200 investigations were closed by MPI's Special Investigation Unit, translating to savings of more than $10.2 million.