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Cape Coral patrol officers, insurers, verify insurance compliance during traffic stops

By Staff | Mar 10, 2011

The Cape Coral Police Department targeted uninsured motorists and drivers in possession of fake insurance cards during a traffic operation Wednesday.
Capt. Mike Torregrossa reported that the goal was to create awareness of the issue and crack down on those driving without valid automobile insurance. This could include motorists with canceled, expired or fraudulent insurance.
“We’ve known for a while that the insurance companies have been plagued with bad policy holders,” he said.
About 15 percent of drivers in Cape Coral do not have auto insurance and costs associated with that are passed along to other customers, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, which partnered up with the CCPD for the traffic operation.
The national bureau estimates that $50 is added to the insurance bill of every insured driver to cover the cost of uninsured motorists and fraud.
“So it’s directly impacting the pockets of our citizens,” Torregrossa said.
About 44 officers roved the streets for about five hours as part of the operation Wednesday. Motorists pulled over had their insurance information checked by more than a dozen representatives from about 35 insurance companies waiting back at police headquarters.
Torregrossa explained that officers do not have the equipment at their disposal to check the validity of a driver’s insurance policy. If a driver hands over a fake auto card, the officer would write a citation and never know insurance status.
“We do not have the mechanism where we can readily check,” he said.
With the insurance representatives on hand Wednesday, officers had a resource at their disposal to which they normally would not have access.
Cape resident William Dorweiler was one driver stopped Wednesday. He was pulled over for a vehicle tag that had been expired for more than six months.
“I think it’s a good idea to me,” he said of the CCPD’s traffic operation.
“If they find they’ve got something to check, I don’t see a problem with it,” Dorweiler said.
Though he got a citation for the expired tag, his insurance was valid.
There were 44 traffic stops conducted within the first 90 minutes of the operation, according to Torregrossa. Eleven of those stops, or 25 percent, involved a motorist that had no proof of insurance.
In total, there were 209 traffic stops conducted, of which 151 resulted in some type of a warning, according to officials.
Fifty stops ended in a traffic citation of some sort, while eight of the stops resulted in a traffic arrest.
“Nobody produced a fraudulent or bogus insurance card,” Torregrossa said.
Ralph Garcia, a senior special agent with the national bureau, said fake insurance cards are similar to fake driver’s licenses, but easier to create because most insurance cards just need to be printed out to be accepted.
These fraudulent insurance cards can cost between $50 and $100.
Officials called fake auto insurance a growing problem.
“It’s costing people with insurance a lot more money,” Garcia said.