Insuring cars that don’t exist

By The West Virginia Record | Feb 12, 2019

You can’t have too much insurance, or can you?

Insuring something for more than what it’s worth (or for more than what it would cost to replace it) doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, unless you’re anticipating a burglary or fire in the near future.

Getting health insurance for diseases you’re not likely to contract or for accidents you’re not likely to experience doesn’t make much sense either.

Insuring things you don’t actually own – or in quantities greater than what you do own – is also nonsensical.

For instance, if you bought a new car and sold the old one, you’d add the former to your  policy and drop the latter. You wouldn't keep paying for insurance on a car no longer in your possession.

We couldn’t imagine anyone being that dumb until just recently, when we found out how the state of West Virginia insures government vehicles.

One third of the vehicles the state has been maintaining insurance policies on are phantom vehicles. That number was determined after implementation of House Bill 4015 from last year’s legislative session. 

How much are the taxpayers paying for the unnecessary coverage? 

“The 8,380 total vehicles found in this inventory process is about 4,000 less than the roughly 12,000 vehicles that our Board of Risk and Insurance Management had been paying to insure,” reports Gary Howell, chairman of the House Committee on Government Organization. “With this definitive total, we will be able to save taxpayers nearly $400,000 in BRIM premium payments each year. . . .”

Does this 4,000 figure represent vehicles that the state once owned but has since sold or retired, in which case failure to drop insurance coverage on them would represent gross incompetence at best? Or is there a more nefarious explanation, such as intentional padding of the inventory and kickbacks for the person or persons responsible? 

Have government employees taken the same cavalier attitude toward state vehicles that some state Supreme Court justices have taken toward furniture and other property belonging to the taxpayers?

Surely, a thorough investigation is warranted.

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Organizations in this Story

West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles West Virginia House of Delegates West Virginia State Senate

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