It's the law Insurance rates: Giving a false address to avoid paying city car insurance rates is illegal.

October 13, 1995

IT'S TERRIBLE what people who live in Baltimore City have to pay for their car insurance. But that doesn't mean it's all right for people to avoid the higher costs by telling the Department of Motor Vehicles and their insurance company they live outside town. In fact, it is against the law.

Anyone found violating that law ought to be prosecuted. That includes state election board chief Gene M. Raynor, 6th District City Councilman Norman A. Handy Sr. and 3rd District council candidate Joan Carter Conway. A look at MVA records indicates those three have been paying lower insurance rates by falsely listing their addresses as outside Baltimore.

Mr. Raynor says he has already corrected the records, but for two years he listed a friend's home in Bel Air as his address because he spent most of his time there. During that time he maintained his voter registration in Baltimore and voted in city elections. Mr. Handy, who has been using a Glen Burnie address, and Ms. Conway, who used the Harford County address she moved from two years ago, both say they will also correct their records.

Of course, they are not the only ones who skirt the law by lying about where they live. Probably hundreds of city residents do the same thing. After all, the same $940-a-year policy in Baltimore would cost a person only $338 for the same coverages in Abingdon. The higher rates are in part attributable to the greater possibility of car accidents and thefts in the city. But they are also due to insurance fraud.

Such fraud includes people not being truthful about their true place of residence. They cause those who tell the truth to pay more than their share of the cost to insure vehicles in the city. A gubernatorial task force has come up with some preliminary ideas to lower insurance costs in Baltimore, including reducing some mandatory coverages. Public officials should set an example and wait for changes in the law. They shouldn't lie about where they live.

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