You May Already be a Victim of Auto Insurance Fraud
You may be driving around with phony auto insurance and not even know it – until you’re involved in an auto accident.
As reported by NJ.com, fake auto insurance policies are a growing problem.
Most people wouldn’t even dream of checking whether their vehicle insurance is “real,” and there aren’t many situations when the issue would come up. However, whenever law enforcement officers are called to the scene of an auto accident they’ll routinely check the validity of an insurance card.
In Michigan, a one-day spot check revealed that 16% of drivers held fake or invalid insurance cards. It’s unclear how many New Jersey drivers are in the same situation.
Crooks take advantage of motorists looking for a bargain, offering “too good to be true” low insurance rates.
New Jersey is the most expensive state in the US for auto insurance, with an average policy costing $1,334.54. Nationwide, the average is only $927.58.
Driving with fake insurance is risky in many ways:
- If you cause an accident, you have no protection – your own assets could be seized to pay the judgment.
- If caught, you can be required to pay penalties that can be even harsher than those imposed for drunk driving.
- You won’t be protected under your own policy if you get into an accident with an uninsured motorist.
- You won’t be able to use your own medical payments coverage to pay for your own injuries.
Under the New Jersey Compulsory Motor Vehicle Insurance Law, if you’re a first-time offender caught with a fake insurance card you’ll face:
- a fine of $300 to $1,000
- MVC surcharges of $250 a year for three years
- community service
- mandatory license suspension of one year
You may be able to avoid the suspension if you can show proof of REAL insurance by the time of your hearing.
Any auto premium that’s well below the going rate should alert you to the probability of fraud.
Even if the so-called “agent” has a real office and appears legit, you can protect yourself by asking for copies of the licenses for the agent and the agency.
You can verify this information by calling the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance at (201) 928-0300 or checking online: listings of licensed agents are here, and you can check the licensing of insurance companies here.
If you or your family member have been injured in a vehicle accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney at the New Jersey Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Hasson, P.C. for help.