Unscrupulous and dishonest collision repair operators are important contributions to the country's insurance fraud problem. There are many types of fraud with collision repairs, ranging from airbag frauds to chopper shops that dismantle and resell stolen vehicle parts to shops that inflate estimates of vehicle damage. Dishonest workshops often use stolen, previously deployed and rescued airbags to replace a customer's deployed airbag. Stores pay very little for these airbags and then invoice your insurance company for the retail value of a new one. Some unscrupulous stores will even attach a deployed airbag to the steering wheel of a vehicle containing an unplaced airbag, creating the illusion of a deployment and thus increasing the amount of insurance claims. Not only do you not get the new airbag you deserve, but you may well get an airbag that does not work when you need it most.
Bandit Tow Trucks
Be careful if you do not call a driver arriving at the scene of an accident and trying to persuade you to have your vehicle transported to a repair facility. These truck drivers often charge exorbitant fees and take vehicles to dishonest repair facilities. When a vehicle is at a facility, it can easily be held hostage with demands on the insurance company's payment. The tow truck driver can also try to refer you to unscrupulous doctors and lawyers who specialize in insurance fraud scams.
"Bury" the deductible
Unfriendly collision repair shops can offer to "bury the deductible" or hide the cost. within the estimate for repairs so that the insurance company stops paying the deductible. A common way of burying the deductible cost occurs when a store invoices the insurer for parts of the original equipment manufacturer but instead installs cheaper parts or repaired, damaged or junk parts.
Some dishonest workshops act as a front for individuals and / or criminal rings who dismantle stolen vehicles and sell them in parts to nasty workshops.
Be extremely careful if someone prompts you to offer to repair your windshield or other glass in your vehicle. A random "inspection visit" from a glass repair technician can be the first step in fraudulent scams.
Inflated Damage Estimates
Some dishonest collision repair shops will estimate charges for work that will intentionally never be completed, or for parts that will never be installed. Stores can also inflate the estimate by exaggerating the amount of damage to the vehicle.
Unscrupulous owners of collision workshops can offer bribes to various individuals in exchange for referrals.
Tips for Protecting Yourself and Your Vehicle
For Collision Repair:
- Use reputable collision repair shops using ASE-certified (Automotive Service Excellence) body techniques.
- Get a store recommendation from your insurance company, family member or friend.
- Choose a facility that is clean and tidy with updated equipment.
- Select a store that uses a written damage report instead of a written estimate of cost / price for repair. A claim is a "drawing" for your repairs. Damage reports also contain more information about the repairs than written estimates.
- Request written warranty for installed collision repair parts and paintwork.
For theft or replacement of airbags:
Review the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) Tips on airbag theft and fraud: Deflate a growing crime trend to protect yourself when you need an airbag replacement.
For glass repairs:
Review the NICB's car glass fraud brochure before signing or agreeing to have any work done by a salesperson.
Download Resources for Auto Repair Fraud
You can find more information in these documents from the NICB:
Accident and Fraud Prevention Checklist and Towing Information
Tips on Airbag and Fraud Tips
Vehicle Glass Fraud
Content with permission from the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
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