Thursday, June 22, 2006

Insurance Fraud Warnings Not Very Helpful?

Aaron Stein, Long Island Insurance BY AARON STEIN

The New York State insurance superintendent has sent out a 'public service announcement' sort of thing to try to warn the public against fraudulent insurance companies. It stems from the horrible boat accident last October when 20 people were killed on Lake George when a tour boat capsized. Here are several paragraphs from the article in National Underwriter and then I will add why I think this is not very helpful.

"New York ’s insurance superintendent has taken to the airwaves to warn consumers about fake insurance as his inquiry continues into a phony insurance operation that was exposed by a fatal accident, a spokesman said yesterday.

Superintendent Howard Mills announced he had distributed a video to television stations telling consumers how to protect themselves from being hurt by fake insurance companies. T

he issue was spotlighted in New York on Oct. 2 when the Ethan Allen tour boat capsized on Lake George, killing 20 people, and it was revealed that the insurance purchased by the vessel’s operator was bogus." Quoted from a National Underwriter article, and here is a link to the full text.

The problem I see here is that the 20 victims were not a party to the fraudulent insurance. They just got on a boat for a nice afternoon ride. I have tremendous respect for Insurance Superintendent Howard Mills, but does he expect that every time we walk into a building, ride in a bus, go on an amusement park ride, stay at a hotel, or whatever, we are going to do some sort of investigation as to the whether the owner has valid and sufficient insurance?? That would be virtually impossible!

This is where our government is supposed to design and implement regulations in and for the public interest. If the people on this boat had even thought of asking whether the boat owner carried proper insurance, at best he probably would have shown what he thought was a valid policy (since apparently they thought they had purchased valid coverage) and that would not have helped.

Yes it's good to be aware and alert to help fight fraud, but in this case there is not much the victims could have done, and I believe it's the regulatory system that could have done a better job. As always, for more information, please visit our web site at

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