By Nicholas Grube
Triplicate staff writer
On Oct. 25, 2002, Tyler Ridgely was riding his motorcycle when an uninsured driver struck him.
Ridgely was not at fault for the accident, according to court records. But he also was uninsured and would have to pay for his own medical expenses and many of the other damages due to his lack of insurance.
Yet, before the accident, his mother, Robin Ridgely, had signed all the insurance forms and paid for a policy that covered Tyler.
She purchased a comprehensive policy from Fraser, Yamor, Jacob and Young Insurance Agency, and according to documents, representatives from the company said that her and her son were covered in case of an automobile or motorcycle accident.
But according to a civil complaint, filed Oct. 3, 2005, against Fraser, Yamor, Jacob and Young, "They (the Ridgelys) were not covered even though they paid for the insurance coverage promised."
The Ridgelys settled out of court earlier this year for an undisclosed amount. They originally filed for $100,000 in damages.
George Mavris, the Ridgeleys' attorney from Crescent City, said his clients' situation is not unique.
"Over the last three or four years, we've been finding out that people haven't had insurance policies and thought that they had," Mavris said.
On Tuesday, the owners of Fraser, Yamor and Young and one of their employees were arrested by Del Norte County District Attorney's Office investigators. Jerrold Young, Margret Young and Page Castro were taken into custody for allegedly committing multiple counts of insurance fraud, including stealing premiums and issuing false policies. At least one more arrest is pending, the district attorney's office has confirmed.
Driving without insurance is a crime in California, and the longer a person doesn't have insurance, the higher premiums can rise.
In addition, if someone were to get a loan from the bank to buy a new car, the bank could charge the uninsured borrower for consumer-forced coverage, which can be upwards of $1,500 for a yearly rate.
"Driving without any type of insurance is a serious violation," Crescent City Police Chief Doug Plack said. "It protects other motorists, residential and commercial property and pedestrians.
"People are expected to have insurance if they operate a motor vehicle," he said. "And the sad part about this is that it is the law-abiding citizen that is driving down the road thinking that they have insurance when (in reality) they do not."
Del Norte District Attorney Mike Riese said ever since local residents found out about the arrest of the Youngs and Castro, his office has received numerous phone calls from potential victims.
"Since their arrests, we've gotten phone calls from more than a half-dozen people that have been victimized," Riese said.
Riese declined to comment on when official charges will be brought against the Youngs, Castro and the yet to be apprehended suspect.
"I'll charge it when I'm comfortable I have all the evidence to present in court," he said.
Due to the nature of the arrest charges, Plack said he believes there are more victims out there who have not yet come forward.
"I believe we have well over 60 victims," he said, adding that the number is probably between 60 and 100. "I know there's a lot more out there."
Since most people are oblivious to owning false insurance policies until it's too late, law enforcement agencies encourages people to find out if they are victims of fraud.
"What concerns us is that we know that there's other victims out there," Plack said. "Potential victims need to contact the District Attorney's Office to state they've been victimized."
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Do You Think You Might be a Victim?
Anyone who thinks he or she might be a victim in this case can call the Del Norte District Attorney's Office at 464-7210 or The California Department of Insurance at 916-854-5777.