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Shaker Heights dumped its billing agent, Cost Recovery Corp., about a year ago because the company's collection practice was too aggressive, and couldn't deliver on its promise that insurance companies would pay tens of thousands of dollars a year on claims for police and fire service, said (Walter) Ugrinic, the city's police chief.
—Cleveland Plain Dealer, February 17, 2007





Emergency services are part of what makes our community civilized. That tax we pay to support them are simply the price we pay to belong to that civilization, a club we call humanity. We have every right to expect and demand that government respect that covenant, no matter where we come from. Instead we are faced with governments looking to balance their
budgets on the backs of innocent car crash victims…
This is one money-raising idea that deserves elimination.
—Petoskey News-Review editorial, November 26, 2006


What you should know about accident response fees

Police department charges: 

An investigating law enforcement officer, by Ohio law, is required to file a motor vehicle accident report.  Police reports are not only a usual and customary service, but required by law.

According to the Ohio Revised Code:
“Every law enforcement agency representing a township, county, municipal corporation, or other political subdivision investigating a motor vehicle accident involving a fatality, personal injury, or property damage in an amount greater than four hundred dollars shall, within five days, forward a written report of such accident to the director of public safety on a form which the director shall adopt….” (5502.11 Report on Motor Vehicle Accident)

Some collection companies tout these fees as revenue-generators to cities and municipalities across the state.  Some tell local government that there’s a huge pot of “free” money available from auto insurance companies.  But in reality, city government is asking your insurer to pay for a service that’s already funded by your taxes.  Sounds a bit like double dipping.

No auto insurance = No accident response fee!


Some billing fee companies advise local officials that insurance companies are the sole users of police reports, and therefore should pay for them. Not true! These reports are primarily provided to assist crash victims in case of legal action. Crash reports are also used by state and local law enforcement for statistical reporting requirements (Ohio Revised Code 5502.12 Use of Written Report of Motor Vehicle Accident) and by hospitals that provide medical assistance to injured accident victims. Key beneficiaries of crash reports include personal injury attorneys and chiropractors that routinely access them for client leads.

From an insurance company standpoint, police reports help determine liability, but insurers don’t solely rely on them.  Insurers investigate each claim regardless of whether a police report was filed. 

Police and fire services that you pay for through taxes may end up costing you twice…through your taxes and your insurance premiums!

Fire department charges: 

Another potential abuse of municipal fees is when a collection company bills your insurance company (sometimes regardless of whether or not you were at-fault) for a fire department run to an accident.  There have been instances reported across the state where fire departments, sometimes with multiple trucks, respond to “fender benders” when equipment was not even necessary or dispatched.  Why?  It’s because billing companies can charge your auto insurer and take their percentage off the top!

We believe when a fire department appears at the scene of a crash, renders no necessary service, and then has a collection company bill for the sake of collecting a service fee, that it’s unfair and potentially dangerous.  What would happen if fire trucks were busy responding to a minor accident and not readily available for a fire or life-threatening emergency? 

What is the primary motivation of city government in establishing fire and police accident response fees?  Is it your safety or is it to collect additional revenue via a backdoor tax for services that residents already pay for?

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