Thanks to insurance, a policyholder gains protection from an economic loss, whether it’s a car accident or a disaster that damages a home.
However, the allure of a quick insurance payout has tempted some to try staging a compensable damage event for their insurers to pay for. Insurance fraudsters often turn to fire in order to intentionally harm their property.
But the act of causing a fire to your own property and filing an insurance claim for it is illegal in South Carolina. In fact, offenders break two laws with their fraud and potentially face twice the number of penalties on conviction.
Burning to defraud is an offense
Per state law, anyone who willfully sets fire to their property – or aids another in doing so – intending to defraud an insurer commits a criminal offense. The property burned isn’t limited to homes and personal items – it can also involve burning shops, goods, wares and merchandise.
The offense is a felony, and on conviction, a person faces up to five years of prison.
Fraudulent claims for fire loss are also an offense
Likewise, South Carolina law also prohibits anyone from submitting a false or fraudulent insurance claim for payment of a fire loss. Under the law, it’s also illegal for anyone to produce false accounts, certificates or proofs of loss to support a fraudulent fire loss claim.
This is also a felony offense; a person faces up to five years imprisonment and as much as $10,000 in fines on conviction.
Two convictions in one
It’s entirely possible for a person to face charges for both offenses by staging a fire on their own property and making a false account of how the flames started in an insurance claim. The penalties can also combine, leading to longer years of prison time.
Insurance fraud is one thing, but intentionally setting fire to a property and then making a false claim is an offense twice over. Facing two criminal charges is complicated, and those with a pending court hearing over the accusations should carefully consider their legal options.