Cities and Counties Charging “Accident Response” Fees to Drivers and Insurers
Budget-constrained cities and counties in Florida and across the country are seeking new revenue sources. As a result, some local governments in Florida and in 17 other states1 have begun the practice of billing drivers and their motor vehicle insurers for police and fire responses to auto accidents, no matter how routine or minor. These “accident response fees” are designed to recoup the cost of auto accident response services provided by local governments. In some cases, third-party vendors are encouraging this practice by soliciting counties and cities for the collection of these accident response fees for a percentage of the recovery, usually ten percent. Typically, the fees range from one hundred to several hundreds of dollars per accident based on the personnel, material and time spent in investigating the crash. Some auto insurers question the validity of these fees arguing that local residents already pay for these services through property taxes. Other insurers assert that police and fire accident response services are not covered under auto policies.
During the 2008 legislative session, a bill was filed and then withdrawn prohibiting counties and cities from charging fees or seeking reimbursement for costs incurred involving police, fire and other emergency responder services to a motor vehicle accident, fire, or other emergency.