How police punish impoverished victims of car insurance scams

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They served and protected the shit out them…

Seriously - how is this legal? First off - how do you get a car impounded for not having insurance? I’ve been caught with out my insurance card before and got a ticket. They didn’t impound me.

2nd, if they are victims of a scam, that means they TRIED to follow the law - and are now victims. So you take their car? How does that make any sense? Is the department that so hard up for money that a 15 year old Honda with mismatched body panels is going to bring in enough so you can finally get the good creamer in the office again?


“The agencies and officers seizing your vehicle do not have any information regarding your case.”
I can see that those seizing the cars might not be the appropriate avenue as far as they are concerned but how can they seize a car without any information.


This has got to be really really rare - maybe less so thanks to the internet. Back in the day you would walk into the insurance office, and if that broker did anything funny you could find them. At a minimum they could lose their license, and who knows, you might even bring along some muscle. Today I dunno, maybe if you go to it might be harder to get redress.


According to the article, “Nearly 20 percent of the auto insurance certificates in Wayne County, Michigan, home to Detroit, are obtained fraudulently, prosecutors estimated.” So apparently not that rare.

Cracking down hard on this kind of thing makes sense to me as auto insurance fraud affects everyone. But while I tend to give the cops the benefit of the doubt in a lot of cases, even I find it pretty hard to understand how there isn’t a procedure for at least stopping the car from going to auction while they sort out whether she knew about it or was truly an innocent victim.


Is this done as a civil forfeiture?

I think painting that motto onto the squad cars went out of style at least twenty years ago.

When you are the ‘auto theft task force’, it’s your job to steal cars, right?


That number isn’t super surprising for the area. Michigan has some of the the highest insurance rates in the country, and for Detroit in particular it’s apparently not unusual for premiums to be as high as 3-5k a year. It’s a hot potato in the legislature here but no one seems to be able to do anything about it, so the folks there just can’t afford it a lot of the time.

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I very much agree, but as a licensed insurance agent, I have no idea how I would get away with fraud like this. Most states have safeguards, at least I think they do. The behavior of the police is another matter entirely.


There’s a difference between not having insurance and using a fraudulent insurance decal.

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I’ve lived in enough placed to know a good thing when I’ve got it. Here in British Columbia, we’ve got socialized health care AND car insurance. Total number of hours I spent last year worrying about either: 0. Value to me: priceless.


Sure; but there’s also a difference between having a fraudulent insurance decal because you were defrauded and having a fraudulent insurance decal because you intend to defraud.


Socialized insurance? So the rate’s not tied to risk? I can see that as a social good for health insurance, but it seems to me that people have a lot more control over their driving habits.

No, it is based on risk, it’s just that the insurer is publicly owned and not doing it for profit. They actually aren’t even a monopoly in BC, it’s quite possible to get additional insurance privately.


That they do; but the question is whether a moral hazard is created; and, if so, whether the moral hazard can be mitigated(in the US, at present, the bulk of the punishment for a lot of vehicular infractions is the ‘points’ that have you paying markedly higher premiums for ages, not the immediate criminal or civil penalty; in the absence of ‘points’, though, you could just make the fine higher and achieve similar incentives).

My suspicion(and it’s purely a suspicion, subject to alteration if anyone has some studies or anything) is that other factors at least partially mitigate the moral hazard of enjoying insurance not priced according to risk:

  1. Many risky behaviors are illegal to some degree, so you can still discourage them by financial or criminal sanction without bringing the insurance market into it.

  2. Risky behaviors, by definition, present a hazard to the driver, passengers, bystanders, or some combination of these. Even with full medical coverage; personal injury is painful and inconvenient(and sometimes not fully fixable); and unless you operate without conscience, injuring or killing passengers and bystanders is an unpleasant experience, even if fully insured.

Among people with reasonably functional risk assessment, there just isn’t going to be much fondness for car accidents. Even if they cost nothing; they are scary and potentially harmful or fatal.

Among people with dangerously poor risk assessment, these factors won’t have as much sway; but neither will risk-based insurance premiums(they’ll act without considering the risk of increased premiums; and then either pay more if they can afford it, or drive uninsured and menace the public if they can’t).

Moral hazards are a problem; but in the case of stuff that sucks even when insurance covers it, not always a crippling one.


it depends, when my younger son was 22 he was stopped and didn’t have his insurance card in the car. they towed it to the impound lot and he had to present his proof of insurance to the municipal judge who voided the ticket and then still expected us to cought up the $100 towing and impound fee. two years later a white woman in her 60s hit him at an intersection where he had right of way. the police officer was writing her a ticket and the woman said she had her insurance card at her house. the oficers let her drive to her house and get it. my son and i are white too so i wanted it understood that race did not play a part in the story but i’m saying age did.


3-5k/year? How the fuck does that happen? My insurance in NY is double what it was in Oregon (because more coverage is mandated, and the agent convinced me to get more than was mandated since people are really lawsuit-happy over here) but still less than 1k/year. Sounds to me like the insurance industry there must have bought even more local politicians than they have here in NY.


That isn’t so cut and dry, though. That you were “defrauded” doesn’t mean you did not know the decal was fraudulent, nor that you should have known.

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You have control of your driving record, but you don’t have much, if any, control over things that the private insurance market will consider such as your age, sex, marital status and such. There’s no risk of being denied insurance because you’ve changed address too many times for the private market’s taste, for example.

More importantly, when there is only one insurance company, it doesn’t matter if an uninsured driver hits you. They’re on the hook regardless.


Typically, when your car gets towed away legally, you owe the towing shop for the price of towing and storage, which is usually ridiculously high, because they can charge just about anything they feel like (and it’s usually contracted out to somebody politically connected with the local government.)

If you only had one car, and it’s towed away, it’s often difficult to get to the insurance agent, police station, courthouse, and towed-car impound lot (which is usually somewhere really inconvenient) before the charges add up to a few hundred or a thousand, and if you can’t pay it off (because you’re poor), they can sell your car to cover the storage & towing fees. And yes, that’s a total scam, and it’s often set up in a way that it doesn’t legally count as a “fine”, so the Constitutional prohibition on excessive fines doesn’t apply.