Police Charge Fee to Investigate Accidents

Police Charge Fee to Investigate Accidents

According to an Associated Press report, police agencies across the nation facing budgetary restraints are looking to car accident participants to cover their costs.  Police agencies are now charging a fee to investigate car accidents and file a report.  The way this system works differs from city to city.  Many agencies charge both the driver and their insurance company to investigate car accidents, from the minor fender bender to the more serious vehicle accident.   In some places, only out-of-town drivers are charged.  Others just send a bill to the insurance company or only to those people whose policies will cover the cost.  

The police claim they spend an increasing amount of time gathering information about traffic accidents.  They also say that most of this information is only useful to insurance companies.  Agencies that charge this accident investigation fee believe that this system fairly compensates the police agency for their time at the scene of an accident.  “But isn’t that their job?” some people ask.  Critics of the accident investigation charge say that taxpayer dollars already pour into the police budget, one of the largest agency budgets in most cities.  Some charge participating agencies with “double-dipping” into taxpayer dollars.  Residents must pay taxes to fund the police so they can do their job, then must pay them again if they get in an accident and require their help. 

When insurance companies are charged a car accident fee, it can also cost consumers.  Insurance companies can raise insurance rates or premiums in response to this additional cost.  This ultimately harms the consumer. 

There are a few dozen police agencies in the Midwest that have implemented this system of charging an accident investigation fee.  The average accident fee cost ranges from $120 to $500. 


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