2010-01-29 / Top Stories

Rockaway Dollar Vans Underinsured

A Long Island insurance broker has been charged with insurance fraud, among other crimes, for underinsuring Rockaway dollar vans and allegedly cheating insurance companies out of at least $150,000 in premiums, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced.

Brown, joined by New York State Insurance Superintendent James J. Wrynn, made the announcement late last week that licensed insurance broker Jeffery Metviner, 45, of 414 East Park Avenue in Long Beach had been charged for underinsuring nearly two dozen dollar vans operating in Rockaway as if they were vanpools. A vanpool is a group of seven to fifteen people who have a similar commute pattern and commute together in a van on a daily basis and share the cost of their monthly ride.

“Vanpools cost thousands of dollars less to insure than dollar vans – which operate commercially as shared taxis and pick up and drop off people anywhere along routes that commonly follow bus or subway lines. By allegedly failing to properly insure the vehicles, the defendant is alleged to have created a significant public safety issue for those members of the riding public who frequent dollar vans. If, for example, an underinsured vehicle was involved in an accident, the passenger insurance coverage limit would be a great deal less and any rider whose injury expenses exceeded the limit could find themselves having to pay out of pocket,” Brown said.

“Rate evasion is a serious crime that victimizes honest businesses and drivers who are forced to pay higher insurance premiums because of the greed of a few dishonest people. The New York State Insurance Department’s Frauds Bureau will continue to aggressively investigate fraud involving rate evasion and I commend District Attorney Brown and his office for pursuing this case,” Wrynn said.

Metviner, who works out of his residence, was arraigned on a 37-count criminal complaint consisting of two counts each of second and third-degree insurance fraud, two counts of third-degree grand larceny, one count of fourth-degree conspiracy, one count of fourth-degree grand larceny, 21 counts of first-degree falsifying business records, one count of first-degree scheme to defraud and one count of petit larceny. Metviner, who faces up to fifteen years in prison if convicted, was released on his own recognizance.

Brown said that, according to the charges, Metviner and an unapprehended individual met in Jamaica, Queens, and conspired between March 8, 2007, and June 15, 2009, to file false insurance paperwork with various insurance companies, including Lincoln General Insurance, Auto One Insurance, Hereford Insurance and Farm Family Insurance – on 21 commuter vans, commonly known as dollar vans. It is alleged that by intentionally classifying the dollar vans at a cheaper rate class (vanpools), the van owners paid lower insurance premiums. As a result, Metviner is alleged to have defrauded the insurance companies out of more than $150,000 in owed premiums.

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