New law targets those who stage accidents to collect insurance

Michael Gormley

August 08, 2019

Originally published in Newsday on August 08, 2019.

ALBANY — Staging an automobile accident to help perpetrators of insurance fraud just became a felony in New York.

Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-Great Neck) sponsored the bill that gained support after a woman was killed in an accident was staged by others to collect an insurance payout.

“By finally criminalizing staged collisions, this legislation will make our roads safer by serving as a powerful deterrent for a crime that puts the safety of the public at risk every day,” Kaplan said Thursday after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed her bill into law.

The measure creates a Class E felony for staging a crash, which will be punishable by up to two to five years in prison. The crime could be prosecuted as a Class D felony — which carries up to seven years in prison — if a person is injured who was not part of the scam.

Previously, there was no specific charge for someone who helped set up the fraudulent crashes unless the person could be tied directly to trying to collect insurance money.

The bill was called "Alice's Law," for Alice Ross, a 71-year-old Queens woman who was killed in 2003 when a vehicle struck another car and slammed into her. The crash was staged by a driver looking to collect insurance money.