The state Senate approved three bills last week designed to protect New York drivers from being nicked in their wallets to pay the high cost of insurance fraud committed by others.
It is time for the Assembly to act as well.
A group called New Yorkers Stand Against Insurance Fraud - NYSAIF - reports that automobile insurance premiums in New York state are 53 percent higher than the national average because of no-fault insurance fraud.
The premiums will continue to climb if nothing is done. Staged auto accidents and other insurance fraud that exploit the state's no-fault insurance laws are among fastest growing crimes in the state. And we're not talking about penny-ante fraud on insurance claims.
As the New Yorkers groups notes, the U.S. Attorney's office recently arrested dozens of individuals in a $279 million auto insurance scam. A few days later, the New York State Attorney General announced a major bust that led to the arrest of 16 individuals who are accused of staging auto accidents to make more than $400,000 in bogus insurance claims.
The state Senate passed three bills to come down hard on the criminals who are driving up costs for the rest of us. The Assembly has had the same three bills kicking around in committees for a year.
The bills are:
A6346A to enable insurance companies to retroactively cancel policies taken out by people who commit auto fraud.
A6177 to establish a new felony-level crime of staging a motor vehicle accident. A person who intentionally causes a collision with intent to commit insurance fraud would face up to seven years in prison, if convicted.
A8443 to criminalize the use of "runners" in New York state. A "runner" is a person who participates in an insurance scam by steering accident victims towards unnecessary medical treatments.
"New York drivers are now facing the highest gas prices in the country on top of already paying the highest insurance premiums," said NYSAIF spokesman David Schwartz. "Albany might not have direct control over the price at the pumps, but they can and must take action on legislation that would prevent insurance costs from spiraling out of control due to criminals bilking the system. The Senate did the right thing for New Yorkers and now its time for the Assembly to follow suit."
It is the Assembly's turn to approve the three bills that will protect law-abiding New Yorkers.