Monday, December 13, 2010

Upsurge In Accident Response Fees Or "Crash" Fees Imposed By Police And Fire Departments Nationwide; Alaskans May Be Vulnerable

You get into a minor fender bender. You contact police, who respond and provide an accident report, then you contact your insurance company. Two weeks later, you receive a statement in the mail billing you $300 or so for the police response.

You've just been hit with what is variably called an "accident response fee", a "crash fee" or a "police response fee". ABC News reports that the practice is on the rise nationwide in the United States, driven by the fact that a number of municipalities, counties, and boroughs find themselves increasingly strapped for cash, in part because they became over-reliant on property taxes during the housing bubble; now that the bubble has burst, property tax revenues declined. In many cases, greedy, predatory collection contractors, seeking to wrap their tentacles around American wallets, have actually prompted various jurisdictions to institute such fees, with the contractor getting a percentage of the take. Some insurance companies will pay the fees for you; others won't. Check your policies.

Even fire departments get in on the act. One Pennsylvania resident got into an accident where her car was totaled. The local volunteer fire department responded to the scene unsolicited. She got a $1,576 bill from the fire department; included were itemized charges such as $50 for brooms, $50 for shovels, and $175 for traffic cones.

Now New York City wants to get in on the act. Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg's "crash tax" plan, car fires with injuries would incur a bill of $490; a car fire with no injuries, $415. And a crash with no injuries would receive a "discount" -- a bill of only $365.

The insurance industry is taking a stand against the proliferation of these fees. Robert Passmore, senior director for personal lines at the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, characterizes them as "double taxation". The group even has a website – – to rally opposition to the fees. Thanks in part to the industry's lobbying, 10 states have placed at least some limits on such collections: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania.

Note that Alaska is not on that list. This leaves us Alaskans vulnerable to the imposition of such fees. In January 2010, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough floated a plan to charge people for off-road rescues. Proposed fees would span various categories of rescue, including charging for the use of ATVs, airboats or snowmachines if responders go off-road; $300 for the first hour, $150 for each additional half hour, plus $200 for trailer; or a $150 flat rate for search and rescues of lost people. While not as repugnant as an accident response fee, the intent is to get people accustomed to shelling out for services traditionally considered to have been already paid for through taxation.

It's one thing to levy a fee for being rescued from an optional recreational activity. It's another thing altogether to compound the inconvenience and suffering attendant to a traffic accident by sending the victims a bill for rescue. Jurisdictions need to find other ways to cut expenses long before instituting these repugnant fees -- to include freezing or even cutting their own salaries. When a police officer can earn $100,000 extra salary per year in overtime (a more detailed analysis HERE), there's plenty of room for other cuts FIRST.

1 comment:

  1. Tune/study/ Remember,anything that requires your signature,or a swearing thereto in order to give it application,is NOT law,but a contract.DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING.All law is commerce:all commerce is contract:no contract --no case.Never go to court.The court is only a third party debt collector for a foreign corporation.YOU are never named on any summons.Even that which you consider to be YOUR NAME is not you;it only represents you. YOU are not a party to the action.YOU cannot be charged because no fiction(any public entity(gov't/corporation's)can bring any claim against a living(YOU/ME)soul.So, when you are served a summons,check to see if your name is on it.(Your name in all upper case letters is not you)It can't be.Do not let the courts trick you into contracting with them in order for us to slit our OWN throats by breaching the terms and conditions of the contract.As long as we do not contract with them -and no law can compel anyone to contract-we can remain free.Tell the cops/judge that you have no desire to enter into contract with them.DO NOT ANSWER ANY OF THEIR QUESTIONS.Ask them if answering their question will enter you into contract with them.(IT WILL)Remember you do not want to enter into contract.