Most states require you to buy some form of insurance for your car before they will allow you to drive it. But all they ask to see is “Proof of Insurance”—a piece of paper saying you have it. In this day of Photoshop and decent printers, some people have figured out how easy it is to make their own “insurance.”
Of course, simply printing up a fake proof of insurance for yourself and presenting it to the state authorities is illegal. And rather easy. Run a quick search of “fake insurance cards” and you will find too many to count on Google. As an attorney, I highly recommend you not do that.
So I will move on to the other group of people we need to talk about here: those who buy fake insurance from someone who may or may not have divulged how sound the insurance policy is.
Believe it or not, there are people out there advertising—on Craigslist, of course!—proofs of insurance for sale. Proofs that are clearly not actual proofs of insurance. If you bring one of these in to your DMV or Secretary of State to get your registration, you are most likely committing a crime. (And you are also a sucker. All the person on Craigslist is selling you is the form you could have gotten for free by running the Google search I described above.)
But if you are truly ignorant and believed that the insurance you bought off of Craigslist was real, you have problems. Get in an accident? That insurance obviously won’t help you. Especially when the other party sues you and they discover you had no insurance at the time of the accident. And operating your motor vehicle without insurance is a crime.
And states are cracking down on this. In 2013, Michigan did an audit of all the insurance proofs they saw on one day. Sixteen percent were fake or fraudulent statewide, with one county running close to 50 percent. The Secretary of State said this:
...auto insurance scammers are arrogant and flagrant in breaking the law. One policy, used by nearly 30 customers, included an official-looking QR computer code. But when scanned, the QR code links to an online site that says only, “Llamas are sooo cool.”
They have begun to enforce the law on this, which makes it a felony to possess, sell, or offer for sale a fake or counterfeit proof of insurance. A felony.
So, while it might be tempting to save a few bucks and buy your “insurance” from some guy in a back alley, go with one of the companies with the silly ads on TV. Their insurance must be real if they can afford to wallpaper every channel with the ads that don’t bother to tell you what they actually do.
And whatever you do, don’t print up your own “proof” of insurance.
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Steve Lehto has been practicing law for 24 years, almost exclusively in consumer protection and Michigan lemon law. He wrote The Lemon Law Bible and Chrysler’s Turbine Car: The Rise and Fall of Detroit’s Coolest Creation.
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