DMV mistake costs Meriden man hundreds of dollars - WFSB 3 Connecticut

I-Team Investigation

DMV mistake costs Meriden man hundreds of dollars

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A man was told he had a lapse in car insurance, but that wasn't the case (WFSB) A man was told he had a lapse in car insurance, but that wasn't the case (WFSB)

A mistake at the Department of Motor Vehicles ended up costing a Meriden man hundreds of dollars.

Rick Reale was told he had a lapse in insurance on one of his cars, but after paying the fine, he said realized that wasn't the case.

Only problem is the DMV refused to pay him back, so Reale reached out to Eyewitness News for help.

When Reale went to the DMV to renew the registration for his '87 Mercury Grand Marquis last October, he was caught by surprise.

"The lady said, ‘oh you owe $200',” Reale said. “And I said ‘why?’"

An employee told Reale it was because he had a lapse in car insurance. So, he paid the fine.

"I needed to register it that day and it might have taken me weeks to get proof and everything else,” Reale said. “So I paid the money."

But, after checking his policy with Foremost Insurance Company, Reale said he found out that wasn't the case. The information was sent to the DMV and he called back to get paid back. However, quickly, things didn't go as planned.

"The lady said no you won't get your money back,” Reale said. “That's that and I said but there's proof it was never lapsed and they said too bad."

After getting nowhere for months, Reale reached out to the I-Team. Eyewitness News called and emailed officials with the DMV and within days got the response Reale had been looking for... a $200 refund.

“When there is a lapse of insurance coverage, customers have 45 days to send DMV proof of continuous or replacement insurance. This notice is triggered after an insurance company reports them as having no insurance on a vehicle. In addition, insurance companies do not coordinate their adds and drops of coverage of a vehicle and a vehicle could appear as not having insurance. We now have an improved reporting system, which started last fall, that helps to better match insurance policy changes and help customers avoid problems as a result of those changes,” DMV Chief of Staff Bill Seymour said in a statement to Eyewitness News

Seymour went on to say “however, we do not encourage someone to pay the fine until the matter is resolved. Collecting and returning unnecessary payments creates backlogs in customer service for others seeking assistance on insurance matters. For those few customers who paid a fine before resolving their issue, we work with them on a case-by-case basis, as we did with Mr. Reale, to determine that a refund is due to them.”  

In the end, there was a happy ending to a long ordeal for Reale.

"Tuesday you made the call. Wednesday they looked into it and Thursday it's resolved,” Reale said. “It probably would have taken me years to get this far if I ever did get this far.”  

Reale not only received an apology from the DMV, but a check for $200 in the mail. DMV officials told Eyewitness News they've taken steps to make sure each branch understands the proper policy.

They also said last fall they unveiled an improved reporting system, which helps to more accurately monitor insurance policy changes.

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