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Pensacola Car Dealer Charged with Insurance Fraud

7/30/2003

CONTACT: Nina Banister
(850) 413-2842

PENSACOLA – Florida's Chief Financial Officer is urging consumers who bought a vehicle from Everyone Rides Car, Truck and SUV Center in 2001 to review their finance agreements. Vehicle buyers may have paid for extended service warranties and other insurance products without ever having the coverage placed.

Michael Bander, 43, former owner of Everyone Rides Car, Truck and SUV Center, located at 5420 Pensacola Blvd., is facing charges of organized fraud, theft, retail installment sales fraud and insurance fraud. Everyone Rides' insurance license was revoked in March.

"It is unfortunate that there are individuals who look for opportunities to take advantage of consumers," said Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher. "Floridians must protect themselves by reading all of the fine print before signing any contract."

Bander, who is being held in Escambia County Jail, is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Thursday in Escambia County Circuit Court. His arrest followed a joint investigation by the Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud and Bureau of Investigations, and the Office of Financial Regulation in cooperation with the Escambia County State Attorney's Office. The investigation was initiated based on information provided by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

State fraud investigators said Bander "rolled" extended service warranties, and in some cases Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) coverage, into finance contracts but failed to forward the premiums and place the coverage. State investigators further allege that Bander collected at least $10,000 in unforwarded premiums and used the money for personal profit. Bander was recently convicted of felony charges in Broward County and was transferred to Escambia County earlier this month to face the current charges against him.

Service warranties are optional and consumers should verify that the charge for a service agreement has not been rolled in to a vehicle's price.

By purchasing a motor vehicle service agreement, the consumer is betting that 1) they will need repairs not covered by the manufacturer's warranty; 2) those repairs will be covered by the service contract and 3) the cost of covered repairs will exceed what they paid for the service contract.

Before buying a service warranty, consider the following consumer tips:


· Insist on a copy of the contract.

· Thoroughly read and understand the contract. If you have any questions, ask the dealer or call the Department of Financial Services.

· Compare the manufacturer's warranty that comes with the vehicle as well as your auto insurance coverage for towing and rentals to determine whether the extra service warranty is a good buy.

· Find out which insurance company is actually issuing the contract and make sure it is licensed. Also find out what the company will require to authorize repairs.

· If transferring a service warranty from a vehicle's previous owner, find out what the fee is, what is covered and how that compares to the purchase of a new warranty.

For more information, visit the Department of Financial Service's web page at www.fldfs.com or call the consumer helpline at 1-800-342-2762. The helpline is available from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. (EST) Monday through Friday.