What is Auto Insurance Misrepresentation?

When you apply for auto insurance, the insurance company will ask you a number of questions. If you fail to answer these questions honestly or accurately, then you have committed auto insurance misrepresentation. In most cases, car insurance misrepresentation is an accident or typo and your insurance company will fix these errors without penalty. If your car insurance claim is denied for misrepresentation, then you could lose your insurance coverage or end up paying a fine or higher auto insurance rates.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Insurance Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years Leslie Kasperowicz

UPDATED: Jun 6, 2022

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Car insurance misrepresentation, also known as material misrepresentation, is a type of insurance fraud. Have you been accused of car insurance misrepresentation? Today, we’re explaining everything you need to know about material misrepresentation.

What is Car Insurance Misrepresentation?

When you apply for car insurance, your insurance company will ask you a number of questions. If you fail to answer these questions honestly or accurately, then you have committed material misrepresentation.

In other words, misrepresentation is a fancy word for lying on your car insurance application.

Material misrepresentation is no joke. You can be accused of misrepresentation for lying about anything on your car insurance application. In some cases, misrepresentation can lead to a denied car insurance claim, a loss of insurance coverage, a fine, or even prison time.

Some drivers are accused of misrepresentation after they accidentally omit information about themselves. Other drivers are accused of misrepresentation for knowingly lying about various facts on their application – like using a stolen identity or lying about a previous accident.

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What Happens If I’m Accused of Material Misrepresentation?

If you’re accused of material misrepresentation, then you could face minor or serious consequences. It depends on the severity of your misrepresentation.

Some of the possible consequences include:

  • Loss of insurance coverage
  • A fine
  • Prison time
  • Higher insurance rates

In many cases, an insurance company will discover that someone has lied on their insurance application but will not reject the claim. Instead, the insurance company will rectify the information, then charge you higher rates on car insurance.

Is Material Misrepresentation Common?

Misrepresentation is a relatively common act. In most cases, misrepresentation is an accident: someone might enter the incorrect birthdate or forget the year of their vehicle, for example. Or, you might claim you’ve been continuously insured for 5 years when it’s really only been four years. These are minor clerical errors that can easily be fixed without penalty. In most cases, your insurance company will discover these errors during their underwriting process, then update your policy without assessing a penalty.

In other cases, however, misrepresentation is a deliberate attempt to mislead an insurance company.

For example, a driver frustrated with paying high insurance prices after a DUI might apply for a new insurance policy while conveniently omitting the DUI from the paperwork.

Other drivers might lie about their marital status as a form of misrepresentation. Married drivers typically pay lower rates for car insurance.

The “primary driver versus secondary driver” issue is another common type of misrepresentation. Many people lie about the primary driver of the vehicle in order to get cheaper insurance. Someone in the house might have a DUI, so their vehicle gets insured under a different individual’s name for a cheaper rate – despite the fact that the individual with the DUI is the only one driving the vehicle.

The number of traffic violations you’ve received, your criminal record, the vehicle’s storage location, your vehicle’s safety features, and other information are other common lies told on insurance applications. These are all types of material misrepresentation.

Will Misrepresentation Be Caught?

It’s quite literally the car insurance company’s job to verify the information you provide. After you request a quote and approve the rate, the car insurance company may begin the underwriting process. In partnership with government organizations and law enforcement, the insurance company will investigate various aspects of your application.

Typically, any lies you’ve told will be easily uncovered during the underwriting process.

In the rare case that you don’t get caught, the insurance company may provide a car insurance policy to you – only to reject your policy when you need to make a claim.

The company will investigate various information during the underwriting process. However, if you ever need to make a claim on your policy, and your insurer is suspicious about the information you’ve provided, then the investigation will be renewed with vigor.

After an accident, an insurance company might review everything from security cameras to social media posts to determine the facts about your claim. If you’ve lied about being a secondary driver when you’re really a primary driver, for example, then an insurance company might review social media posts, photos, and other information to prove you’re driving the vehicle more than you’ve stated.

For all of these reasons, it’s best to avoid committing material misrepresentation. In most situations, misrepresentation is quickly caught and punished.

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Material misrepresentation can be a very serious offense. It can lead to charges of insurance fraud. It can lead to denied insurance claims and other issues. In many cases, drivers who committed serious misrepresentation on their insurance policy applications end up in prison.

In other cases, misrepresentation is a minor issue. You may have reported being insured for 10 continuous years when it was really 9 years, for example, because you mixed up your dates. In these situations, your insurance company will likely discover the error during the underwriting process, then quietly update your policy without major penalty.

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