How to Avoid Windshield Repair Fraud

Free windshield repair can quickly lead to fraudulent insurance claims. Here are some ways to avoid becoming a victim.

You don’t need a Ph.D. in economics to know that everyone’s feeling the pinch. While most of us just cinch our belts and budgets by skipping a latte here and there, other less-than-honest individuals and companies resort to fraud, including windshield repair fraud, to fatten up bank accounts and profit.

According to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, fraudulent auto glass claims have increased by 527% in 2010 alone. That means that more than ever before, drivers and insurance companies are being swindled by shady businesses and individuals (aka “claim bandits”).

So what can you do to shield yourself from some scammer’s get-rich-quick scheme?

With this question in mind, we turned to Rob Krohn, from Harmon Solutions Group, who offered some useful insights on how to avoid falling victim to bogus windshield repair claims.

The windshield repair scam

Imagine this scenario: As you pass through a car wash, you encounter a young man conducting a “free” windshield inspection. He checks out your windshield and amazingly finds 2 cracks. Then, before you can think twice, he explains that because the chips are so small, they’re repairable and that as long as you have “full coverage,” it shouldn’t cost you a thing.

After a minute of fast talking, he then asks you to call a number, a “glass line,” which he has readily available. You ring the “glass line” and talk to someone who identifies herself as a third-party representative for your insurance company. You give her your policy information, and by the time you pass back the phone, your windshield’s been “repaired.”

What it costs you

Unfortunately, free windshield repairs usually don’t exist. While the repair didn’t cost you a dime today, you’ll probably end up paying for it down the road. Claim bandits use your authorization to charge insurance companies exorbitant prices. Multiplied thousands of times across the country, these seemingly minor occurrences add up — and could cause your insurance premium to rise. Furthermore, once these bandits have your private policy information, they can charge multiple claims in your name. And that could lead to higher rates.

Aside from potential premium increases, however, these “free” windshield repairs can be a safety risk as well. After all, what do you know about the repair? Did the company use a quality product — and are the technicians properly trained? Unreliable and unscrupulous operators often do inferior work, which could cause further problems down the line.

What you can do

There are a number of simple and practical things you can do to protect yourself from being a victim of fraud:

  1. Just say no. If a salesperson approaches you in a public space offering “free” windshield repair along with numerous other perks to seal the deal, just say no. Easy as that.
  2. Inspect your windshield. It’s recommended that you inspect your windshield on a regular basis. If you find a chip or crack, have it repaired by a qualified technician before it gets worse. (If you’re an Esurance policyholder, we’ll plant a tree in your name when you have your windshield repaired instead of replaced.) Additionally, it’s a good idea to call your insurance company first for help finding the best provider in your area.
  3. Double-check your bill. Once all’s said and done, check your bill to make sure it’s correct and that you weren’t billed for more than you ordered. Verify that the name on the invoice matches the name of the shop you chose and that all billing details are correct. You can never be too careful.

By following these 3 simple and straightforward tips, you can safeguard yourself from fraud — and help keep premiums low for everyone.

5 Responses to “How to Avoid Windshield Repair Fraud”

  1. Fix-A-Chip Auto Glass
    October 9, 2013 #

    I think there are some good points in this blog, but lets clear somethings up. When you call your insurance company they WILL tell you to go to Safelite auto glass and they (Safelite) WILL tell you anything to make sure you go through them. If you want your money to go to a foreign owned multi million dollar company then go through them. I always tell people to look for a local repair only shop and ask to see there work. They will always care about the quality of work more than a large company. Billing your insurance company for windshield repair is always an option, but if you can afford the out of pocket cost just pay for it.

    • I want to shout about the same way you wrote. If there is anything needed to be repaired for your car then just find a local repair shop for a quality work. Anyway thanks for sharing the tips.

  2. Kevin Moses
    February 17, 2014 #

    I think it is clear that E-surance is using this article to drive customers to the preferred method of filing a claim. Fact #1 , insurance companies, not the windshield repairman, set the prices for a windshield repair. There are several court cases, in which an independent windshield repair company tried to set their own prices for a repair, only for the courts to find in favor of the insurance company.

    It is also unclear whether the author means to lump everybody who isn't safelite into the "claim bandit," since safelite is the company indirectly who you speak to when you file a windshield repair claim through the insurance company. So, if I am reading this article right, everybody else (not safelite) are claim bandits? That seems dubious.

    The fact is most independent windshield repair companies would absolutely welcome the idea that the insurance company stop paying for repairs all together, since 90% of them go to safelite anyway.

    I am not complaining but the facts are that if you are a customer and you believe that healthy competition benefits the customer in any industry then you should consider supporting your local windshield repair company, otherwise you really won't have a choice pretty soon as it is clear that even 90% of the marketplace is not good enough for E-surance, they really want 100% of it.

  3. D Anthony
    December 23, 2014 #

    Thanks Anne for sharing these tips…..i totally agree the points you mentioned in the blog. These days, people are becoming victim of windshield repair fraud.

  4. WillieWalker
    March 25, 2015 #

    WINDSHIELD REPAIR SCAM: First Off a true technician knows that unlike you said the work isn't honestly all correct if you do the repair before authorization from the insurance scam. how could you possibly knock people trying to create jobs and their own businesses? I stand at a car wash and yes I've helped a lot of people realize things about their windshield that they didn't know. Safelite nor any other big glass company educates the public. and that's what I do. I shallow to call that a scam

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