NY MAY RECONSIDER AUTO THEFT, FRAUD BILL

NY MAY RECONSIDER AUTO THEFT, FRAUD BILL

An auto theft and insurance fraud bill that died in the New York state Assembly last month now has the support of the New York City Council and Mayor David Dinkins and is likely to be reconsidered by the Assembly this session, Sen. Guy Velella said.

Sen. Velella, R-C, Bronx/Westchester, is chairman of the Senate Insurance Committee. He first introduced the bill last year."This bill is vital to combatting auto theft in New York," Sen. Velella said, referring to skyrocketing local and national car theft problems.

John Calagna, spokesman for the New York state Insurance Department, said the department supported the concept of the bill throughout the legislative process last year.

The auto fraud bill did pass the New York state Senate on June 27, 1991, but died in the Assembly on Jan. 8, 1992.

"The Assembly just didn't think the bill was important enough at the time," said Marci L. Toback, press director for the Senate's Standing Committee on Insurance.

"But Mr. Velella has been pushing and worked harder to get the bill through the Assembly because of the increasing number of auto thefts," she said.

New York in 1990 was ranked as the second worst state in the nation for total auto thefts, while New York City ranked as the worst city in that category, Sen. Velella said.

"Auto thefts for 1990 cost New Yorkers more than $950 million," he told a recent press briefing. "It's time the state does something to help keep down the cost of auto insurance."

Provisions of the bill include a discount on comprehensive coverage if a vehicle is equipped with an electronic anti-theft homing device and if a vehicle's identification number is etched into the windshield and rear window.

The bill would also establish a Motor Vehicle Law Enforcement Fund that would charge an extra $1 on each auto insurance policy. The money would be turned over to municipalities that have instituted anti-auto-theft and anti- auto-fraud programs.

However, Sen. Velella plans to amend the bill so that the $1 surcharge would be charged for each registered motor vehicle, in an attempt to generate more revenue than the per-policy charge.

With such a change, revenue from the fund is estimated at $10.8 million a year.