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Athena Osiris

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Coalition Against Insurance Fraud: Dodging auto premiums should be crime

Lying about garaging vehicles burdens honest drivers

 

Summer driving season is in full swing. It’s a reminder that dishonest drivers are illicitly registering their vehicles in states where premiums are lower. The Coalition is calling for states to go after these drivers.

 

Using out-of-state addresses to insure a car illegally reduces the driver’s auto premiums. It also burden honest insurance consumers who insure their vehicles with their real address. They may pay higher auto premiums thanks to drivers who cheat the system.

 

North Carolina was the first state to tackle this issue by requiring new insureds to show proof of residence before an insurer could write a policy. Out-of-staters were registering their vehicles in North Carolina for the lower auto premiums.

 

North Carolina recently went a step further and put more teeth in the existing law. Trucking firms are falsely registering their fleets in the state yet have no operations there. The new law requires businesses to prove they ply the roads in the Tar Heel state.

 

Falsely registering vehicles in New Jersey is a specific insurance crime.

 

The Coalition seeks a similar law in New York. Bills have stalled, though we and our partners there are planning to reboot in 2017.

 

A Maryland bill would’ve let insurers rescind policies of drivers who falsely registered their vehicles in the state. The state held a public meeting. An insurer told about a claimed loss in Maryland by an insured who lived in New York — where the insurer doesn’t write coverage. The insurer paid the claim to avoid a baseless yet potentially costly bad-faith suit.

 

The statehouse will revisit legislation in 2017.

 

The Coalition strongly supports targeting auto rate evasion. Tough state laws can remove a driver’s incentive to take the risk.  Consumers who lie about where they drive to lower their auto premiums add burdens to the many thousands of honest drivers. This undermines the integrity of the auto-insurance system.

 

Fraud fighters have taken the forefront on this issue. Stay alert to auto-premium evasion in your state. Tell the Coalition and your state insurance department. Falsely registering a vehicle should be a ticket to jail, not an easy source of summer spending money.

 

About the author: Howard Goldblatt is director of government affairs for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.