Weekly Car Insurance Crime Watch: October 25th

The news doesn’t stop, because crime never does either.

With the deluge of crime stories that Online Auto Insurance News (OAIN) sees everyday relating to car coverage, here is a roundup of this week’s biggest headline-grabbing yarns. And it certainly is a deluge: one man realizes the value of insurance before he can buy it; yokels try to swindle insurers; crooks craft elaborate crime rings to stage crash after crash; and officials do their best to beat back the illegal activity that insistently dogs the industry.

Man’s Car Gets Stolen while Purchasing Insurance for It

A man in Joliet, Ill., bought insurance on his car just a tad too late on Tuesday evening.

According to The Herald-News, a man walked into an insurance agency that night to insure the used car he had just bought. While he was inside purchasing his policy, the car was stolen from the parking lot by a 14-year-old boy who hit another vehicle in the process of taking off with the car.

The man apparently had left the door unlocked and the keys in the ignition before walking into the office. If he had already purchased insurance for the car, any damages to his new ride and the car hit in the parking lot likely would have been covered. Instead, he might end up having to eat the loss and pay for the other car owner’s damages.

NY Criminal Complaint Alleges City Council Campaign Padded Auto Insurance Payments

Alleged political corruption and auto insurance? An unusual marriage, for sure.

But apparently so was the marriage between Judy and William Rapfogel. They are at the center of a scandal involving huge overpayments for insurance dating back to 1997 in exchange for kickbacks, according to the New York Times.

The Times explained that 16 years ago, when Judy was running for City Council, her campaign spent a whopping 6 percent of the $160,000 campaign budget on auto insurance. The insurance costs were “more than double what the campaign spent to lease the vehicles themselves,” according to the Times article.

Rapfogel’s car insurance payments made up 6 percent of spending for her 1997 campaign and was the campaign’s fourth biggest vendor, coming in behind the campaign’s expenditures on catering and printing (either that’s stellar coverage, or something else is amiss).

In a mess of family ties, a criminal complaint was filed this week against Judy’s husband William, who prosecutors say padded the payments to Century Coverage Corporation “in exchange for more than $1 million in kickbacks”, the Times reports.

According to the Times, prosecutors said the cash from the kickbacks was “stashed in their homes” and that Judy’s campaign looks like the only one for a city or state office to enlist Century’s coverage.

“When other campaigns purchased car insurance, they typically bought it directly from large insurance companies like Allstate or State Farm,” the Times wrote.

Judy isn’t named in the complaint, and she denied involvement in the alleged scam with her husband.

Florida PIP Quagmire Goes National with Nightline Visit

Although OAIN has covered Florida’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) system extensively, news program Nightline has just gotten to it.

And something’s a big deal if Nightline covers it. The news program put PIP fraud on the national stage, going to an early-morning Miami bust-up to cover arrests of suspects believed to be behind staged crashes. (The episode aired Wednesday.)

Those staged crashes cost insurers $400,000, according to Nightline, with more than 20 people taken into custody during the raid.

According to Lt. Rafael Delgado, who works with Florida’s Department of Financial Services: “It’s my understanding a lot of people that were once into narcotics are into committing staged accidents.”

About Charles Nguyen
Charles Nguyen is an enterprising journalist who reported for Patch.com and the Desert Dispatch and was the editor in chief of the Guardian (the twice-weekly newspaper at the University of California, San Diego) before coming to Online Auto Insurance News.

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