February 7, 2020
OLYMPIA, Wash. – Byron Mounce, of Puyallup, pleaded guilty in Pierce County Superior Court to one count of third-degree theft after an investigation by Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s Criminal Investigations Unit (CIU). Mounce was sentenced to serve 80 hours of community service and probation, to pay a $500 crime victim compensation penalty and restitution to be determined at a future court date.
According to the investigation, Mounce bought an Esurance policy for his 2000 Mercedes sedan on Oct. 31, 2018. The same day, he filed a claim for more than $3,500 in damage to his car and injuries to his passengers. He said the collision occurred in Tacoma earlier that day when he was run off the freeway by another driver and hit a concrete wall. While he was on the phone with the insurance adjuster, he was overheard telling the tow truck driver that a steering issue with the car caused him to hit the wall. Washington State Patrol records showed the Mercedes had been impounded two days earlier after a collision on Interstate 90 in King County.
Esurance denied the claim, which it had determined to be a total loss, and referred the case to Kreidler’s investigators.
Kreidler’s CIU investigates insurance fraud and works with the Washington State Patrol and state and local prosecutors on criminal cases. Insurance fraud costs the average family $400 to $700 per year in increased premiums. Insurance companies are required by law to report fraud to the commissioner.
Consumers can report suspected insurance fraud on the insurance commissioner’s website.