'My Porsche is a tractor' insurance scam

An unusual scam has emerged in which drivers are claiming a 'farm use' discount for high performance cars including Porsches, Audis and BMWs.

Insurers in America will offer discounts of up to 20 percent for cars used almost exclusively on farms; the less time a car spends on public roads, the less chance it has of crashing or being stolen.

But a company called in to assess the 80,000 cars registered for the discount found that models including a Porsche 911 Carrera, Mercedes SL-Class and BMW Z4 were insured under the scheme - hardly suitable muck spreaders.

The company, San Francisco-based Quality Planning, discovered an Audi A4 registered as a farm vehicle in Brooklyn - a densely populated New York suburb not famous for its agricultural industry. The driver was enjoying a $389 (£250) annual saving on his premium.

Of the 80,000 registered cars, 6,382 (around eight percent) were kept in areas in which less than one percent of the population work in agriculture.

The fraudsters are seemingly able to get away with it because of lax checking by the insurance companies - farm use claims are rarely verified.

Talking to the New York Times, Quality Planning's Robert U'Ren said: “honest people end up subsidising the insurance premiums of dishonest people. It is an easy tool that cheats can use to reduce the cost of auto insurance.”

It's not just drivers that are in on the scam, however - insurance brokers are at it, too. Pete Moraga of the Insurance Information Network of California confirmed that brokers are willing to use it to cut premiums in order to gain business.

Drivers aren't often prosecuted for misrepresenting their cars as farm vehicles, but simply have their vehicle re-classified and the discount rescinded.

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