How to Avoid Windshield Repair Fraud

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.

But the first step in protecting your vehicle is making sure you have quality auto insurance. Get a quote now.

How to Steer Clear of Deer (and Save 3,000 Bucks)

November marks the last weeks of fall (in most corners of the country) and the beginning of the winter driving season. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, as many as 65 million Americans will travel for the holidays. Coincidentally, November also signals the beginning of deer-mating season, and a related increase in accidents involving cars and deer.

More people driving; more deer getting busy — when you put it together it all makes sense. In fact, the number of animal-collision insurance claims is nearly 3 times higher in November than in other months.

When deer (or any other friendly beasts of the forest) meet the front side of your car, nobody wins. The average deer/car run-in could cost you more than $3,000. And that’s not to mention the emotional cost involved with running over Bambi.

Here are a few dos and don’ts for avoiding costly accidents, and perhaps sparing yourself a few tears in the process.

  • Watch for deer crossing signs and remember that deer are most active between dusk and dawn, particularly between 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.
  • Buckle up. It’s been estimated that in fatal animal crashes, 60% of people killed weren’t wearing seatbelts.
  • Don’t count on deer whistles. There’s no conclusive evidence they work, and instead they can provide a false sense of security.
  • Don’t swerve or slam on the brakes since you could lose control of the vehicle. Brake firmly and steer straight.

Invaluable insurance tip

Although many people think a deer accident is covered under their collision insurance, it’s actually a part of their comprehensive coverage. (Hey, we didn’t make the rules.)

Make sure — especially if you live in an area densely populated with deer — that your comprehensive coverage is up to par and can cover the numerous potential expenses involved with a collision.

In summary, enjoy the winter holidays, but stay safe on the road and watch out for deer dalliances. Spare yourself the unnecessary headache of an accident and save a few bucks in the process. (Yes, pun intended.)

More ways to stay safe on the road this winter

Watching out for deer isn’t the only way to protect yourself while driving this winter. Be ready: Winterize your car in 7 simple steps, and make sure to brush up on your winter driving know-how with these helpful tips. Because truthfully, you can never over-prepare when it comes to snowy or icy driving.