Accident claim was deception

Policy covered only vehicle owner, but her daughter was driving

Cayman has not seen many insurance fraud cases, but the one to which Cherry Scott-Fedricks pleaded guilty crossed the custody threshold, Magistrate Valdis Foldats said on Monday.

However, her guilty plea was the most important aspect of sentencing, he continued, and the court wants to promote a society in which people take responsibility for their actions. He therefore imposed a term of 12 months imprisonment, but suspended it and placed the defendant under supervision with an order to perform 40 hours community service.

He also ordered payment of compensation to the insurance company for $5,460.

Scott-Fedricks was charged with obtaining property by deception – receiving $5,460 by falsely representing to the insurance company that she had been involved in a traffic accident at Smith Road and Huldah Avenue.

Crown Counsel Laura Manson told the court that Scott-Fedricks was the owner of a vehicle insured with Brit-Cay, but the vehicle was covered only when Scott-Fedricks was the driver.

In 2011, the vehicle was involved in an accident while it was being driven by her daughter, who was not covered. Scott-Fedricks submitted an accident report form, putting herself down as the driver at the time of the accident. She signed the report.

Brit-Cay subsequently paid $5,460 to the repair company, “clearly relying on the information supplied”, Ms Manson said.

The deception came to light when the other party involved in the accident sought compensation from Brit-Cay. That party said it was the daughter driving.

The insurance company commenced internal investigation and Scott-Fedricks was called in to the office. She admitted her false statement and entered into an arrangement to pay the money back.

However, she did not do so and the matter was referred to police. In her interview with police, the defendant said she did not know she was doing anything wrong and she was just trying to protect her daughter, Ms Manson concluded.

Defence attorney John Furniss said those facts were admitted. His client apologised to the insurance company and to the court, he indicated. She had not been able to pay the money back but she will have sorted out a number of matters by the end of this month and will be in a position to pay $1,000 per month, he said.

The magistrate referred to Scott-Fedricks saying she wanted to protect her daughter. “I’m kind of suspicious,” he said. “I think it was more to get paid for the vehicle, but the prosecution can’t prove that.”

He emphasised the seriousness of the offence, pointing out that the deception was not the result of an impulsive act: Scott-Fedricks had signed a paper and she knew what she was doing.

The magistrate said he gave her credit for her immediate admission to the insurance company, her guilty plea in court and her willingness to pay the money back.

In her interview with police, the defendant said she did not know she was doing anything wrong and she was just trying to protect her daughter.