Graves seeks to deter fraudulent vehicle collisions

Newly introduced bipartisan legislation offered by U.S. Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA) aims to lower motor vehicle insurance rates for drivers in his home state of Louisiana and across the United States by deterring fake car accidents.

“Louisiana drivers pay some of the highest insurance rates in America. This is unacceptable and the solutions don’t require rocket science,” Rep. Graves said. “Our legislation cracks down on fraudulent claims, increases safety on the roads, and will help to lower insurance rates for drivers.” 

The Highway Accident Fairness Act of 2021, H.R. 6151, which Rep. Graves cosponsored on Dec. 7 alongside bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), would make it a federal crime to stage a commercial vehicle collision and fraudulently claim financial damages, according to a bill summary provided by the lawmakers.

The bill was spurred by a federal investigation that uncovered a massive car accident staging ring in New Orleans devised to defraud insurance and trucking companies. According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), as of November, 40 people have been charged for intentionally causing more than 100 wrecks. Thus far, there have been 29 convictions, the DOJ said, with one staged accident by a husband-and-wife team resulting in a $4.7 million settlement. 

“Our bill will prevent criminal rings from further increasing the cost to drive and do business in Louisiana,” said Rep. Graves. “That one $4.7 million settlement caused all of our insurance rates to go up.”

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) endorsed H.R. 6151, with ATA President and CEO Chris Spear saying the bill “would restore balance and fairness to the system and help ensure justice drives accident litigation, not profiteering and windfalls.”

“Thanks to Rep. Cuellar for joining the effort, the American Trucking Associations, and all those supporting it,” Rep. Graves said on Dec. 9.