Friday, May 12, 2017
* Action call for New York fraud fighters: Write your legislator today — support strong bills stopping dishonest roofers who prey on homeowners and insurers. You just need a couple of quick keystrokes. The statehouse closes in June … so it’s urgent that you act now. Assembly and Senate bills would: limit repair deposits to 50 percent of the contract … forbid roofers to act as illegal public adjusters … forbid contractors to dangle rebates to lure consumers for repair jobs … and let homeowners cancel contracts for unneeded repairs. Let’s wake up Albany now … it’s our last chance this year. Everyone in New York can send letters — investigators ... attorneys ... consumer advocates. Let’s build a groundswell of support that tells legislators these bills deserve “Yes” votes.
* A bill boosting civil fraud penalties is about to pass the Minnesota statehouse. HF 1443 lets the commerce department impose civil fines for attempted insurance crime. Adding the word “attempted” means insurers won’t have to pay phony claims before the civil penalty is set. Scammers also would have to to repay insurers for investigation costs. And fraud-bureau investigators would be defined as peace officers … so they can obtain and execute search warrants. Both chambers have passed the bill. They’re ironing out details before sending the measure to the governor for his expected signature.
* The New York legislature continues reviewing legislation targeting drivers who lie about where they garage and drive their vehicles to lower their auto premiums. Two bills (SB 5970/AB 7782) would give the insurance superintendent authority to investigate suspected scammers as a specific insurance crime. Similar bills fizzled in 2016, and the prospects for this year’s versions is uncertain.
* The Orlando Sentinel was livid after bills making it harder for contractors to fraudulently take over claims went belly-up for the 2016 session: “As with gambling, the Legislature kicked property insurance reform down the road for another year. Unlike gambling, however, property insurance affects most Floridians, directly or indirectly. Property owners pay higher premiums. Landlords raise rents to cover those increases. Home insurance costs are the dry rot in the state's economy and quality of life.” The so-called assignment of benefits ruse has let contractors fleece homeowners and their insurers with bogus lawsuits and inflated repairs. The large losses have contributed to higher homeowner premiums in many areas of Florida.
said in a lead editorial Monday inspired by the Coalition’s letter to the editor.
CRIMINAL CHARGES* Georgeanne Rickard needed to add some spark to her relationship. So the Rogersville, Ala. woman allegedly asked boyfriend Kenneth Hudson to torch her home while she vacationed in Orlando. Prosecutors charge: Rickard told Hudson to torch the place so she’d reap almost $100,000 from insurers. Hudson lit an electrical unit with a candle in the attic. Both allegedly admitted their involvement. They’re charged with insurance fraud and arson. Rickard faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted, while Hudson could spend up to life. The Alabama State Fire Marshal’s office led the investigation.