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.

12 Responses to “How to Avoid Windshield Repair Fraud”

  1. Avatar for Anne Le Tran
    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.

    • Avatar for Anne Le Tran
      May 30, 2015 #

      Why would you pay out of pocket?? Paying your insurance company already comes out of your pocket. They use your money for advertising & fixing someone else's car, why not have them fix your own?? YOURE ALREADY PAYING FOR IT

  2. Avatar for Anne Le Tran
    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. Avatar for Anne Le Tran
    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.

    • Avatar for Anne Le Tran
      May 30, 2015 #

      You're ignorant. The real fraud is coming from insurance companies. What's the difference between safelite & other businesses moving up? I work for a windshield company and we verify coverage before the job is done and never fix or replace a windshield without the customers ok. So you feel it's ok to pay out thousands of dollars to help insurance companies but you can't get a windshield repair?? In the state of Florida they're covered under comprehensive coverage, where's the fraud? The real fraud is paying your monthly insurance bill to then be denied coverage by companies like esurance to the realize they spend millions in advertisements. Now what?

  4. Avatar for Anne Le Tran
    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

  5. Avatar for Anne Le Tran
    Windshield replacement Houston
    August 6, 2015 #

    Thanks for giving such a good information to us.

  6. Avatar for Anne Le Tran
    August 27, 2015 #

    Personally, I'd choose a locally owned shop with a good reputation. Remember, customer reviews and word of mouth are always good gauges of a companies integrity and quality!

  7. Avatar for Anne Le Tran
    October 24, 2015 #

    Thanks to author for the article. Windscreen repair or replacement depends on the size, location and severity of the damage. Location of the damage also plays an important role in determining your windscreens fate. It’s important to repair your windshield right away, don’t wait until your car needs a full windscreen replacement. I trust my windshield only to the company that has the trained technicians, quality materials and the latest technology. Safety of driving is very important for our life.

  8. Avatar for Anne Le Tran
    December 11, 2015 #

    It is also important to talk to your insurance. They might cover your repair or replacement completely. Especially if the chip is in your line of view while driving.

  9. Avatar for Anne Le Tran
    Jose Ackman
    April 19, 2016 #

    It happened to me once when I forgot to double check the bill and got a HUGE surprise when I noticed it. Fortunately, I called the insurance company and the company`s representative was kind enough to help me with my issue.

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