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Cape police conduct auto insurance crackdown

By Staff | Mar 17, 2015

An auto insurance crackdown took place on Tuesday in Cape Coral, resulting in five arrests and numerous traffic citations and written warnings.

The Cape Coral Police Department, in partnership with the National Insurance Crime Bureau and representatives from state and national insurance carriers, conducted the traffic operation focusing on uninsured motorists and drivers with fraudulent insurance. Seventeen insurance carriers took part.

“We try to do an operation like this at least once a year,” CCPD spokesman Sgt. Dana Coston said.

He explained that insurance fraud exploiters often apply for auto coverage, then cancel the policy as soon as they get their documents. They then carry their fake card to show to an officer if stopped.

“So, they have proof of insurance in hand upon inspection,” he said.

Police rely on state data to confirm a driver’s insurance status and it is often outdated. During the operation, however, officers could speak directly to one of the insurance representatives gathered at police headquarters to validate a driver’s status. Thirty-eight officers participated in the operation.

“We get access to their computer systems in real-time,” Coston said. “We’re able to nullify that fraud.”

During the citywide operation, 280 traffic stops were conducted from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

He noted that the stops were made based on probable cause, like speeding, no seat belt and such.

“We wanted to make sure the drivers had proof of insurance with them, and that the insurance they provided to officers was valid,” Coston said.

The traffic stops resulted in 230 written warnings and 68 uniform traffic citations. If a driver was stopped for speeding but their paperwork was in order, the officer could let them off with a warning.

“It’s faster, and the officers can get back out looking for the primary offenses,” he said.

Of the citations issued, 26 were moving violations, such as speeding or running a traffic signal or stop sign. Forty were non-moving violations, of which a total of 15 were for no proof of insurance.

Five arrests were made – three for driving on a suspended license and two for drug possession.

Coston explained that Florida loses millions of dollars every year to auto insurance fraud.

“Seeing that about 5 percent of the drivers had any type of problem when stopped today is very encouraging,” he said. “That’s probably one of the highest rates of compliance we’re seen in years.”

It is likely some of that 5 percent will show up to court with their missing paperwork.

“The rate of compliance is actually even higher than the 95 percent that we saw today,” Coston said.