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Car Thefts Down; Insurance Up – QNS.com

Car Thefts Down; Insurance Up

The recent shutdown of a giant auto crime ring by police and Queens District Attorney Browns staffers further highlights the exponential 55% reduction in Queens car thefts during the past five years. The good news is also stirring up a hornets nest.
Borough President Helen Marshall last week inquired why there was not a corresponding decline in auto insurance fees based on the heavy decline in auto thefts. She pointed to the current heavy insurance costs facing motorists. Even the Automobile Club of New York (AAA) says that much more could have been done to cut insurance rates.
AAA spokesman Robert Sinclair explained that while stolen auto claims have declined, state insurance fraud claims are among the highest in the country because of "a dysfunctional state legislature in Albany."
Sinclair said that the ongoing police battle against car thefts was part of a state program called the "Motor Vehicle Theft and Insurance Fraud Prevention Fund" that was financed by $1 taken out of each motorists insurance policy. In recent years, however, more than 50% of these anti-crime funds have been appropriated for other uses. As of January 1 of this year, explained Sinclair, this anti-crime fee suddenly shot up from $1 to $5 per policy fee with no reasonable increases in anti-crime funding.
A concerned Councilmember John Liu declared, "Queens residents pay exorbitant car insurance rates which simply do not reflect the actual risks borne by insurance companies."
Liu, the Councils Transportation Chair, also called for the State Insurance Department to "investigate the operation of the fund intended to reduce insurance fraud."
NYPD records also show that its five-year borough crackdown gives Queens a greater declining auto crime rate than the rest of the city. Despite this sharp drop, Queens cars have been stolen at the rate of 16 per day since January 1.
Victor Ross is a freelance writer.

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