Last week a change.org petition was created in support of repealing New York’s recently enacted window tint law. The legislation requires windshield and front windows (as well as the rear windows in certain vehicles) to let in 70% of light, essentially a factory-level tint. Proponents of the legislation include law enforcement, which cites safety concerns for officers approaching vehicles as well as visibility between drivers and passengers and other drivers as the necessity for the law–all very valid concerns.
Opponents of the legislation, including the New York group that started the repeal petition, are mostly concerned about civil liberties and costs for removing existing tints on vehicles. However, there is another group of constituents that are highly concerned about this law—private investigators who require window tinting to effectively perform surveillance activities. Private investigators can be portrayed as intrusive and rogue, but the truth is they serve an important function in our economy and society. Many private investigators are employed in the insurance industry, investigating liability claims and helping to reduce the more than $90 billion in annual insurance fraud costs—costs which flow down to all consumers. Investigators also provide critical background checks of healthcare and child care workers to prevent putting the wrong person in a job charged with caring for a vulnerable population. The industry has evolved and more private investigation companies are performing essential services to help protect people and assist organizations with operating effectively.
Licensed private investigators in certain other states, such as Florida, receive an exception to the window tint laws. New York has not offered this exception, but should. The State is no stranger to fraud. Prosecutors in a New York City disability fraud case believe that disability fraud schemes alone could have a $400 million impact. In the case handled by these prosecutors, 100 city workers were charged with faking psychological problems for insurance benefits. And in a 2016 report to Governor Andrew Cuomo from the New York State Department of Financial Services, the Department cited nearly 15,000 suspected health insurance fraud cases that had been referred to them in a one-year period. It stands to reason that every rational tool should be available to licensed professionals charged with helping to reduce these types of incidents in the State.
Private investigators have always worked hand in hand with law enforcement. They support and facilitate each other’s efforts. Enabling private investigators to effectively pursue their work in uncovering insurance fraud and other misdeeds, whether it is through exceptions to window tint laws or other common sense measures, benefits everyone (except the fraudsters).