Lying about where you live to get a better auto insurance rate is pretty common. Plenty of otherwise upstanding citizens -- the kind of people who would never dream of, say, stealing a candy bar -- engage in this kind of corner cutting and think of it as no big deal. But, in fact, so-called "rate evasion" ends up costing the rest of us money and state authorities do engage in episodic crackdowns. One such crackdown by Pennsylvania's Attorney General just ensnared a number of nearly two dozen people in New York and Philadelphia, as reported today:
Attorney General Tom Corbett has announced the filing of criminal charges against a Philadelphia insurance agent and the arrest of a vehicle tag agent from Philadelphia, along with charges against 22 New York residents, all allegedly linked to a cross-state “rate evasion” insurance fraud scheme.
Corbett explained that rate evasion involves out-of-state residents – typically from the New York City area – who falsely claim to be Pennsylvania residents in order to save money on their vehicle insurance. Often, the individuals involved in these schemes provide bogus information to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) in order to obtain PA drivers’ licenses or vehicle registrations so they can purchase lower cost insurance. . . .
“Some New York or New Jersey drivers can save up to four-thousand dollars per year by falsely claiming to live in Pennsylvania because of differences in insurance premiums and coverage requirements,” Corbett said. “Honest consumers end up paying for these schemes because accident claims generated by drivers who lie drive up premiums for everyone else.”
According to the criminal complaint, Baptiste issued numerous automobile insurance policies listing Pennsylvania addresses which turned out to be false – including eleven policies for individuals all claiming to live on a street in Clarion, Pennsylvania that does not exist, along with twelve policies for individuals all claiming to live at the same single family home on North 7th Street in Philadelphia, which tax records show is owned by Baptiste.