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The longer the Legislature denies Boston the ability to impose local option taxes…the more desperate become the ideas to raise cash. The latest arrives courtesy of City Councilor Robert Consalvo of Hyde Park, who is proposing surcharges on out-of-town motorists who are found at fault for accidents within the city limits.
Boston Globe editorial, August 7, 2006

What you can do

You have a choice in this matter.  After all, you pay for police and fire protection and now you could be faced with paying for it twice through higher insurance premiums. 

Here’s what you can do:

  • Contact your local officials and let them know that you don’t want to pay a hidden tax for police and fire services.  You already pay for these services.

  • Send a letter to your local newspaper when this issue comes before city council.  Let others in your community know that a backdoor tax is being considered.  You’re a voting member of the community and others have a right to know what’s being proposed.

  • Voice your concern for the unfairness of these fees.  Why should uninsured drivers get away scot-free at your expense?  Ask local officials to consider alternative revenue enhancements that aren’t discriminatory in nature.

  • Ask city officials to discuss police and fire run fees with local insurance industry representatives or insurance agents BEFORE implementing them.  Most cities bypass this step, and are not aware that there might be another side to the issue.  Most insurers are receptive to the opportunity of helping city government weigh the pros and cons of these fees prior to implementation.

  • Contact your insurance agent or company representative if your city considers police or fire accident response fees.  There are hundreds of townships and municipalities throughout the state, and making your agent aware of the potential charges is one way to make sure that your insurer can take proactive measures to help educate city government on the issue before it’s too late.

  • Ask your city finance director about the plans for revenue collected from accident response fees.  Will they help pay for additional law enforcement, fire equipment or just be added to the general revenue fund to cover unrelated city expenses?  Ask them to be accountable for revenue associated with these fees.

  • Contact your state legislators to voice your concern for these fees. Not sure who to contact? Click here to find your State Representative. Click here to find your State Senator.

If you receive a bill from a billing company

  • If a policyholder receives a bill or a copy of a billing fee statement as a result of a police or fire department response to an accident, contact your insurance company or agent immediately. They will inform you of your obligations.

  • In some cases, policyholders have successfully contested these fees. Consider the following steps:
    • Contact the billing company and request documentation for services provided at the scene.
    • Compare this documentation to what you recall at the crash scene and what was noted on the crash report. Were medical services administered? How many service personnel were actively servicing the scene and for how long? What other services were provided? Was the staffing and equipment at the scene necessary and the same as noted on the billing statement? If you feel you have been billed in excess or the billing company cannot document the exact services provided at the scene, seek a billing reduction or a zero balance.
    • Contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office if you feel you are a victim of potential fraud or unscrupulous business practices, including threats by collection companies. The Consumer Protection Section enforces statutes that regulate consumer complaints, mediates settlements and in some cases initiates litigation against companies accused of unfair, deceptive or unconscionable sales practices. Click here to file a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
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