TAMPA, Florida -- The odds of being involved in an accident with an uninsured driver are so high because the division of insurance fraud says 25 percent of the drivers in Florida have no insurance or phony insurance.
Captain Mike Byrne says that's why people like Stephanie Dunbar sell fake insurance cards. "It's lucrative," he says.
Stephanie Dunbar, who works for Progressive Insurance but not as a licensed agent, was arrested and charged with insurance fraud on Wednesday, August 21. An undercover investigation alleges she was selling fake insurance cards.
We asked her how many fake insurance cards she sold. However, she wouldn't asnwer, as she was being put into a car to be transported to the Hillsborough Jail at the time.
When we saw Thomas Collins on 56th Street after he had just been involved in a minor accident, we told him about the story we were doing. Collins tells us, "The people who lose are the insured motorists for the most part."
Collins knows firsthand. The accident he had Wednesday is the second one he has been involved in this year. In the first one, Collins says the driver gave the police a false insurance card and Collins got hit again, this time in the pocketbook.
He says, "I lost the deductible. I lost everything."
A major reason you're at risk of being involved in an accident with a person who doesn't have insurance is because if you take a fake insurance card to the Division of Motor Vehicles they have no way of checking if it is real or phony. That means they will issue a registration and license plate number whether you have insurance or not as long as you have a card.
According to Byrne, "They're using that insurance card to obtain a registration fictitiously."
And while the DMV is working to have a computerized database to check insurance cards, there is no target date.
Byrne says,"We're just hoping they initiate that sooner than later. I know there are cost factors and they have to take that into consideration."
While there is a cost associated with a computerized check, there is also a cost for all of us for not having the system. Florida is one of the top five states for uninsured drivers. According to Insure.com, that is one of the reasons Floridians pay an average of $1,500 a year for auto insurance. Some say it is unbelievable in this computer age.
New York, which has a computerized system to check insurance, has only five percent of its drivers uninsured.