Mass. Lawmakers Approve Anti-Runner Bill

December 29, 2004

Massachusetts lawmakers have passed an insurance fraud bill that targets so-called “runners” who recruit others to participate in staged car accidents to collect the insurance.

The bill makes the practice a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

The measure gained added support after a 65-year-old grandmother died last year in what police and insurance industry fraud investigators said was a staged car crash.

“The first step in effectively fighting auto insurance fraud is to treat runners like the criminals they are,” Gerald L. Zimmerman, assistant general counsel for the National Association of Independent Insurers, when the bill was heard in committee earlier this year.

“Runners” steer accident victims to the clinics of crooked health care providers for “treatment,” and collect a fee for each “referral.”

The measure, which awaits Gov. Mitt Romney’s signature, would penalize the practice of acting as or hiring runners with imprisonment of no less than six months and up to five years or by a fine of not less than $1,000 nor more than $4,000.

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