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Man charged with felonies after finagling insurance for crash

If you've ever driven without proper insurance, you know there's always a risk. If you get into an accident, you're going to get caught breaking the law. If you were at fault, you could also get stuck with the cost of repairing your own vehicle and the other person's vehicle -- plus, you could be held responsible for injuries.

Today, of course, you can get an online insurance quote in just a few minutes and, once you've bought the policy, you can get proof of insurance in an instant. Unfortunately for a Philipsburg man, however, you still can't go back in time.

The 31-year-old man apparently bought a policy from The General on Nov. 8 at about 9 p.m. On Nov. 13, he filed a claim for a two-vehicle accident that had occurred the very same day he bought the policy -- just an hour afterwards, he claimed.

The accident actually occurred at about 5 p.m. on Nov. 8. Decatur Township police were dispatched to the scene at 5:03, and the other insurance company was told about the accident at around 5:30.

The news wasn't good. According to The General's estimate, the Philipsburg man's pickup was totaled, resulting in a loss of about $8,000. The other insurance company estimated the other vehicle's damage at over $12,000. Luckily, there did not appear to be any injuries, according to the Centre Daily Times.

To further bolster his claim that he had fortuitously purchased car insurance an hour before the crash, the Philipsburg man brought an email to Decatur Township police a few days later. That email confirmed his purchase of the policy and appeared to be time-stamped at 1 p.m. A judge or jury will have to determine whether the time stamp is legitimate, but an insurance agent told investigators that she believes it had been altered.

According to the Times, police confronted him about phone records from The General that appeared to contradict his story. The man allegedly admitted that the accident occurred before he bought the policy and that he had told The General that it had occurred afterward.

He has now been charged with two felony counts: Filing a false insurance claim and theft by deception. He also faces a misdemeanor forgery count. Interestingly, he does not seem to have been charged with driving without insurance. He was released on his own recognizance pending a hearing on April 4.

If you are in an accident and don't have insurance, don't panic -- and don't try fudging your insurance records. The best thing to do is remain calm and contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as you are safe to do so.

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