December 13, 2018
OLYMPIA, Wash. – Eric Slade of Yakima was charged with first-degree theft in Kittitas County Superior Court after he reported committing insurance fraud and a subsequent investigation by Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s Criminal Investigations Unit (CIU).
According to the investigation, Slade contacted Kreidler’s office in September 2017 to report that he fraudulently received more than $5,500 from two insurance companies for his car. In October 2014, he filed a roadside assistance claim with GEICO for towing and tire replacement and a theft claim with Liberty Mutual for items he reported stolen from the vehicle.
At the time of the claims, he reported that his car had run out of gas on Interstate 82 in rural Eastern Washington and he had to walk to get cell service so he could call for help. He reported that his tires were slashed while he was gone and more than $5,000 in belongings and $8,000 in cash were stolen from his car.
When Slade self-reported the fraudulent claims, he told investigators that he staged the incident. He drove the car until it ran out of gas, damaged the car to make it look like it was vandalized during a theft, and purchased the items he reported stolen so he would have receipts, although they remained in his possession.
Kreidler’s CIU investigates insurance fraud and works with 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.