Reporting Jim Donovan
By Jim Donovan
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Parking tickets! Speeding tickets! They’re the last thing a busy driver needs. But here’s something new, companies offering to cover you so you won’t have to pay! 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan takes a look at a business that describes itself as a “traffic ticket protection company.”
The sirens, the flashing lights, the heart pumping as you get pulled over and get handed a ticket. College student Aaron Dickerson says, “Every once in a while I go a few miles over the speed limit.” But even he knows that he can’t afford getting caught. He says, “Being a student having to pay a $300 or $400 ticket out of my pocket is really not something I can afford easily.” So Dickerson signed up for TicketsBite.com. For around $50 a year his tickets are covered.
“It works very similar to insurance,” says Chris Thomas, who created the company earlier this year. Plans start from $49 a year and go up to $199, covering everything from speeding to seatbelt and parking violations. The site even says it will cover traffic school and a jump in your insurance rates. According to Thomas, “Tickets are unexpected and they cost a lot,” adding, “we cover most major violations.”
“It just seemed incredibly sketchy to me,” says Chris Morran, Deputy Editor of Consumerist.com, which alerts readers to scams and rip-offs. “I think if there was money to be made from this legitimately, actual insurance companies would offer this service.”
The TicketsBite site has customer reviews that say things like “This service is absolutely amazing. I got a $400 ticket and they paid it for me” and “TicketsBite really saved me when I was about to be in big financial trouble.” But despite posting a list of all the claims allegedly paid on the website, TicketsBite operator Chris Thomas admitted no one had filed a claim since he started the company! Then he quit returning calls!
Morran thinks unsuspecting consumers need to be wary saying, “It sounds like it’s going to bite you in the butt in the end.” And while college student Aaron Dickerson hopes his coverage is there for him, if he needs it. “It just gives me an extra safety net,” says Dickerson. Chris Morran has an even better suggestion. He says, “You’re better off just obeying the traffic laws and paying the fines when you don’t.”
TicketsBite isn’t the only company offering this sort of service, there are others out there too. But you need to realize that even though they may say they’re like insurance, they’re not actually insurance. Insurance is regulated by each state. In fact TicketsBite was sent a cease and desist letter by the state of California.
A representative of TicketsBite did reach out to us in response to our story with a statement saying in part:
“Not only have members filed claims, we have approved and paid a majority of those claims,” Jason Stackman, Vice President and Co-Founder of TicketsBite.
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