Windshield Scams: Parking Lot Cons on the Rise

Parking lot cons are on the rise. Here’s what to watch out for and how to avoid becoming a target.

windshield scams

You’re in the grocery store parking lot loading the week’s milk, eggs, and bananas into your trunk when a man approaches.

He tells you he noticed a small, almost imperceptible chip in your windshield — a chip that could eventually lead to bigger problems — and offers to fix it for you completely free of charge.

You strain to see the chip in question until finally you think you can almost make it out … the tiny chip that you’re now convinced will lead to much larger problems if you don’t have it fixed immediately.

Amazingly, a windshield repairman just happens to be on hand to help you out. Lucky, no?

Unfortunately, no. This is a known insurance scam and one that seems to be on the rise in parking lots all over America.

Windshield scams on the rise

According to Joe Laurentino, vice president of material damage at Esurance, stories like this one have become increasingly prevalent in recent months.

“Because some states waive the deductible on windshield chip repair, we’ve seen a rash of unscrupulous ‘repairmen’ offer ‘free’ repair. But here’s the catch — sometimes, there’s no damage to begin with. Sometimes it’s only a surface pit that causes no safety risk. Even worse, sometimes these fraudsters cause the damage before pointing it out to you,” Joe said.

Plain and simple, it’s a pre-meditated con, designed to bilk your insurance company for hundreds of dollars. Charging insurance companies for unnecessary claims is, of course, considered insurance fraud. And if you think it only affects your insurance company, think again.

The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud estimates that fraudulent insurance claims add up to $80 billion annually in the U.S. And this means insurance fraud costs the average family approximately $950 a year in increased premiums.

Having your windshield repaired

That’s not to say, however, you shouldn’t try to have that chip fixed sooner rather than later. According to Swansea Metropolitan University, 50 percent of chips crack within a year, 80 percent within 2 years, and 90 percent within 3 years.

Additionally, extreme temperature changes — like turning on your defroster or heat when the weather first turns cold, or turning on your A/C when the mercury starts to rise — create significant stress on your windshield, often causing small chips and cracks to spread.

If you have a chip, it’s important to have it inspected (by a trusted professional) to determine if your windshield needs to be repaired or replaced.

How to avoid windshield scams

If you were not already aware of the damage before someone pointed it out, it’s wise to contact your insurance company first. They’ll help you confirm the damage needs to be fixed and work with you to find a trusted glass vendor within their network to handle the repairs.

Because your windshield is a key part of your car’s structural integrity (providing up to 45 percent of the structural integrity of the vehicle’s cabin in a front collision and up to 60 percent in a rollover), you should never trust repairing or replacing your windshield to just anyone.

How to report insurance fraud

If you suspect a windshield scam or other insurance fraud, contact The National Insurance Crime Bureau by calling 800-TEL-NICB or texting the keyword “FRAUD” and your complaint to TIP411 (847411).

Related link

Learn more about car insurance fraud

11 Responses to “Windshield Scams: Parking Lot Cons on the Rise”

  1. LaSondra Huggins
    March 7, 2013 #

    Ooh, I didn't know there was/is a hot line to report all insurance fraud. They have so many different depts for everything. I knew I would have been busy as a social worker but it would have probably ful-filled my ADD and lifestyle.

    • Kelly
      July 27, 2013 #

      Chipio is the company that started the problem.

  2. Mobile windshield repair
    March 18, 2013 #

    Great information, I see these auto glass repair scams everyday :( Please don't look down on the windshield repair industry just let… Windshield repairs are very beneficial in restoring the structure integrity of the glass, keeping the damage from getting larger, improving the cosmetic appearance by 80% or more, maintaining the factory seal of the windshield and are much more cost effective than a entire windshield replacement.

    It's just like any other service industry out there, you have to know what to look for. We always recommend to ask to see the companies credentials. Any reputable company/person would be happy to show you the paperwork if they have been licensed, insured and certified.

  3. Cynthia
    June 7, 2013 #

    Luckily, we found a local website that warned us of dealing with these scammers, but not until it was too late.

    Richard from the San Diego Windshield Repair Association replied to my email and said that there are plenty of groups that surround gas stations. They call them "Insurance Harvesters." We later called esurance and explained what happened. They cancelled the claim and told us to go to another shop where we could get it evaluated. We chose a shop from the association's website and they came out and said that nothing had been done to it. They made it look great and the insurance paid them instead.

  4. howell clark
    July 18, 2013 #

    how idiotic , windshield chip repair runs between 25-35 dollars at many auto glass places and you can by do it your self kits for 12-20 dollars. if an insurance company is paying out more than that for a repair of that nature they need to be fired by both the insured and the state insurance board. ( license jerked and no more business in that state. ) sorry but i'm feeling no empathy for this pulp story or for the insurance company. they are usually smarter than this and if they aren't they don't need to be in business.

  5. Keith
    July 26, 2013 #

    I feel so bad for the insurance companies. They barely make any profit, and are always willing to pay out necessary claims so quickly. My heart truly bleeds for those poor souls.

    • Mark
      July 26, 2013 #

      Keith – I see your point, but you can't hurt insurance companies by costing them more money. They just raise premiums to cover the costs of doing business. You currently pay a lot more for your insurance than you should because of insurance fraud.

      • Joe S.
        September 5, 2013 #

        Mark – I think Keith was being sarcastic rather than naive. But you are also correct. In the end this kind of fraud only costs us, the insured.

  6. Luther Heggs
    November 16, 2013 #

    Why would anyone talk to some stranger that approached you in a parking lot while you were loading groceries in the trunk of your car? I don't care if he has a logo on his hat/short or not.

  7. Larry S.
    November 18, 2013 #

    I had fix my Lincoln windshield from men offer me solution . Small dent probably from other car or truck which zoom on road 95 in Florida. Cost me $ 85 dollars. because he said I have only one size coverage on my car. He told me insurance cover repair if you have full insurance coverage I am believe him . After 4 years little filling is gone probably sometimes hot weather or etc.

  8. Nancy Bell
    February 25, 2014 #

    I took my car into a dealership for an oil/filter change and was offered a new windshield. I went for it but now I realize it probably was a scam. Surprised the dealership would let them on the property and approach their customers……but then again, dealerships have a reputation……

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