Tampa’s #1 in Florida in staged crashes

April 8th, 2011 by Staff

Tampa, Florida — Tampa Bay is yanking the top spot from Miami, but this is not good news.

Recently released numbers show Tampa ranks number one in Florida when it comes to staged crashes and second nationwide.

This means, it’s costing you big money. Try a few hundred bucks each year in your premiums.

“A 40 year old driver, male or female, married in Tampa Bay with no history of an auto accident, two years ago their premium was $480 a year just for the PIP portion of their auto insurance. Two years later, it’s $870,” said Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, who pointed out the increase in costs, despite crashes being down.

Atwater says you can blame the fraudsters out there who are ripping off the system by filing fake claims and staging crashes.

The fraud has cost Floridians more than $1 billion that’s been built into their premiums each year, Atwater explained, and the insurance companies are shelling out even more money.

Atwater, Allstate Insurance and Tampa Police teamed up to demonstrate the types of crashes the fraudsters stage and some involve innocent drivers.

“Anytime they’re in an accident, if there’s anything suspicious about it, anyone climbing into the car that wasn’t in the car, this is a case it’s a set up for fraud,” said Atwater.

Hillsborough County State Attorney Mark Ober says his office plans to prosecute the individuals involved in this fraud to the fullest extent of the law.

His office is working 117 cases right now.

“Our message to the public is we’re taking this very seriously,” said Ober.

Atwater is encouraging people who know or suspect fraud to report it to his office.

On Thursday, the office awarded $10,000 each to two different people in Tampa for their information that led to a legitimate case of fraud.

He reminds the public, you can remain anonymous.

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