A Florida homeowner was arrested for insurance fraud and grand theft following her attempt to file a damage claim against a new insurance policy after already receiving a $60,000 insurance payout from her former insurance provider for the same damages.
According to a statement from Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and the Florida Department of Financial Services (DFS), the insurance provider of Renee De La Maza became suspicious of her recent claim-filing activities and referred Maza’s insurance claims to investigators with DFS’ Bureau of Insurance Fraud for an in-depth review.
Investigators confirmed Maza initially filed an insurance claim in 2005 with her previous insurance provider after her home received water damages from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. Shortly after the claim was filed, Maza received more than $60,000 to make the appropriate repairs to her home.
Five years later, Maza filed a supplemental claim for damages that were not previously included in her claim from 2005. However, the 2010 claim of damage was denied based on similarities to the damages already reported in the 2005 claim. The insurance company noted Maza made very few repairs to the home following the 2005 claim.
The investigation went on to show that in 2015, Maza created a new policy with a different insurance provider and she filed an insurance claim for wind and rain damage that allegedly occurred in July 2015. Maza submitted a proof of loss to her insurance company for approximately $43,500 in damages. DFS said Maza’s insurance company offered to repair the alleged damages, but Maza chose not to accept the option of repair. Maza’s claim was denied after refusal of repair.
Maza submitted another claim to the new insurance provider in August 2015 for alleged water damages for the same areas listed in Maza’s July 2015 claim. However, this time she filed her claim for an estimated $178,200 in damages. DFS’s investigation revealed Maza’s prior claims for damages were never disclosed to her new insurance provider and the claims she made in 2015 were almost identical to the claims she made in 2005 and 2010. This led investigators to believe the 2015 claims were fictitious and filed in an attempt to fraudulently collect an additional insurance payout.
Maza was arrested Oct. 30, 2017, by DFS’ Bureau of Insurance Fraud detectives and was charged with filing a false and fraudulent insurance claim, application fraud and grand theft for endeavoring to steal $178,200 from her insurance company.
This case is being prosecuted by the Office of State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle and if convicted, Maza could face up to 60 years in prison.
“As Florida continues to recover from an active hurricane season, many homeowners across the state are navigating their way through the claims-filing process and making repairs to their property,” said CFO Patronis. “Insurance fraud can drive up insurance rates for our consumers so our message is simple: If you plan to steal from your insurance company or engage in fraudulent activity, be prepared to face swift action from our state investigators.”