Crime Scene TapeThe commissioner of the Iowa Insurance Division is shining a spotlight on a case in northeast Iowa with hopes of preventing and deterring insurance fraud.

Nick Gerhart says a former Strawberry Point firefighter recently pled guilty to charges that he paid two other men to steal his truck and set it on fire back in 2011. “They burned this truck, committed the arson, and then filed false claims with the insurer to collect,” Gerhart says.

The case involved Terry Groth and his accomplices, Damian Welsh of Strawberry Point and Zachary Norton of Monticello. Gerhart says Groth filed claims with his insurance company for the loss of the truck, a burglary at his shop, and vandalism of his father’s property in Manchester. Groth received payments totaling nearly $13,000, but investigators later determined all of the claims were false. Gerhart says insurance fraud cases like this affect all consumers because it leads to higher premiums.

“The way it works in insurance, everyone’s risk is pooled together and when fraudulent claims are filed and paid out, all of us pay for that,” Gerhart says. Groth, a former Strawberry Point firefighter, was ultimately convicted of second-degree arson and insurance fraud.