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IMMEDIATE, Wednesday January 30, 2002


Announce Opening of Oneonta Frauds Office following Visit to New York Central Mutual Highlighting the Effect of Insurance Fraud on All New Yorkers

Lt. Governor Mary Donohue, State Insurance Superintendent Gregory V. Serio and Senator James L. Seward today opened a new insurance frauds investigators office of the New York State Insurance Department office in Oneonta and visited New York Central Mutual Fire Insurance Company highlighting the effects insurance fraud has on insurers and all New Yorkers.

"This new investigatory facility in Oneonta will not only serve the needs of greater Otsego County, but will serve as a base of operations for an expanded fraud-fighting initiative in the Southern Tier. As a former prosecutor, I would also like to specifically thank Otsego County District Attorney William J. Gibbons for his dedication to the fight against insurance fraud," said Lt. Governor Donohue.

"With this new office, Oneonta is going to be a significant center of the state's fight against insurance fraud," said Senator Seward, chair of the Senate Insurance Committee. "I congratulate the Superintendent Serio for his efforts to focus on insurance fraud and scams because they hurt family finances and drive up insurance premiums. We welcome the continued cooperation of the Otsego County District Attorney."

"I’m pleased to open our new Oneonta fraud investigators office. Insurance fraud takes hard-earned money out of the pockets of all New Yorkers. No-fault insurance fraud alone cost New York’s drivers $1 billion a year," said Insurance Superintendent Serio.

Serio noted that last May, the Insurance Department announced a sweeping auto insurance reform package calling for an end to the "fraud tax."

"Senator Seward has introduced the reform bill, the Department has issued Regulation 68, which is currently under review, and Governor Pataki’s designation of the Attorney General as Special Prosecutor has already produced tangible results," he said. " The statewide presence of frauds investigators paired with the Attorney General and local prosecutors will go a long way in our fight against insurance fraud."

"On behalf of the Otsego County District Attorney’s Office, we welcome the opening of the new Insurance Department Frauds Bureau in the City of Oneonta and look forward to working with their investigators in the prosecution of insurance fraud," said Otsego County District Attorney William J. Gibbons. "In today's economic condition, white-collar crime of this sort has a severe impact on the citizens of our state, in the form of increased costs for their insurance. This action by the Governor and the Insurance Department will effectively aid in our efforts to reduce this type of crime."

The Lt. Governor, Insurance Superintendent and Senator Seward first stopped at New York Central Mutual Fire Insurance Company, which recently grew in Edmeston by adding 162 new jobs, bringing its total number of employees to 1,011. New York Central Mutual is the eighth largest writer of auto insurance in the New York market, the sixth largest writer of homeowners insurance and the third largest employer in Otsego County.

"New York Central Mutual Fire Insurance Company has been committed to New York State and its over half-a-million policyholders for more than 100 years," said V. Daniel Robinson, President and COO of New York Central Mutual. "We applaud the efforts of the Insurance Department and the state to fight insurance fraud -- the second-largest white collar crime in the nation. We’ll continue to work closely with the Department and support legislation to combat this crime that raises honest policyholders premiums."

"New York Central Mutual is another company expanding in upstate New York creating jobs and serving the needs of New York’s insurance consumers," said Serio. "With the increased presence of our Frauds Bureau in Otsego County and the continued assistance of local law enforcement we will fight to eliminate insurance fraud and not only lower insurance premiums but protect jobs--we don’t want insurance fraud to eat up jobs and damper expansion plans."

"We welcome the jobs that New York Central Mutual is adding to their payroll," Senator Seward said. "This company employs many area residents and is a significant player in New York's insurance industry."

The new Insurance Department Office is located at the Homer Folks Facility on 28 Hill Street, Room 210 , in Oneonta. The New York State Insurance Department’s main offices are located at 25 Beaver Street in Manhattan and in Albany. In addition the agency has staff in Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Oneonta and Long Island.

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