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OFF BEAT: Minutes count when renewing auto insurance


When a Pennsylvania woman phoned Safe Auto Insurance Co. to initiate an auto insurance policy in April, she claimed she hadn’t had an accident in five years — but according to the authorities who charged her last week with insurance fraud, it actually had been a mere seven minutes.

According to a news report, police records show the woman was involved in a fender bender in a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. parking lot in Wilkes-Barre Township, Pennsylvania, at 12:44 p.m. April 11. At 12:51 p.m. she was on the phone to Safe Auto to set up coverage, the report said, and the next day called the insurer again to file a claim, prompting the insurer to begin a fraud investigation.

The Northeastern Pennsylvania Insurance Fraud Task Force, which charged the woman with a misdemeanor count of insurance fraud, said a previous policy she had with Columbus, Ohio-based Safe Auto lapsed March 1.