Have you been the victim of a car insurance scam? Insurance fraud is more common than you might think. And unfortunately, insurance is vulnerable to swindles. For experienced con artists, if there’s a way to defraud an insurance company, they’ll figure it out. Read about some of the more common auto insurance scams at play across the country. Being aware can help you avoid tricks and potential rip-offs.
Staged Car Accidents
You’ve probably heard of these fake or forced auto accidents. But you may not know how many ways scammers can trick you into a collision. The following set-ups are some of the most common methods.
In a maneuver called the “swoop and squat,” the offending vehicle will cut in front of you and then slam on their brakes. This forces you to rear-end their auto. It’s difficult to prove you weren’t at fault when you run into the back of another vehicle.
Fake Permission Wave
You’re merging onto the freeway or another main thoroughfare. And you’re gratified to see that wave of permission from the vehicle next to you. You move into traffic ahead of them, only to have them crash into you. In the aftermath, the other driver denies waving you on. In a variation of this maneuver, the other vehicle may entice you to pull out of a parking spot before running into your auto.
Be especially cautious and vigilant when you’re making a left turn at an intersection with dual turn lanes and you’re in the inside lane. If you drift even slightly into the outer lane during the maneuver, the car next to you may purposefully ram your vehicle. These pros frequent busy intersections looking for this very opportunity.
After setting the stage in these scenarios, the scammers place the blame on you. They then go after compensation from your insurance carrier. Often, they have passengers in their vehicles and each of them files injury claims against your policy, too. Some con artists don’t even bother to bring the extra people. They just lie and claim injury by phantom passengers. And to their boost their claim higher, they may use a pre-damaged vehicle. After staging an accident with you, they’ll claim you caused all the damage.
These fake helpers prey on car accident victims immediately following a collision. They may not even wait until you leave the site of the accident to approach you. Others phone you shortly after the crash. They’re called cappers or runners. Their goal is to direct you towards bogus service providers. These include body repair shops, healthcare providers, and even attorneys. These unscrupulous people will try to convince you to file fake or exaggerated claims with your insurance company. Steer clear.
Car Repair Scams
There are a variety of scams involving car repair fraud. They involve crooked mechanics, corrupt tow truck drivers, and other dishonest service providers in this industry.
- Exaggerated repair expenses – Deceitful body shops make a buck on your misfortune. They use inferior or counterfeit parts but charge for top-of-the-line components. Some of them bill your insurance carrier for work they didn’t do. Others inflate their charges or exaggerate the extent of damage to your vehicle.
- “Helpful” Tow Truck drivers – After an accident, you’re surprised to see a tow truck appear. You didn’t call him. The driver tells you about a great body repair shop and convinces you to let him take your auto there for repairs. These hucksters are in league with the dishonest body shops described above. They monitor police scanners in order to swoop in on motorists right after an accident.
- Airbag replacement fraud – You have no idea what’s in your airbag compartment until the crucial moment you need this lifesaving device. Criminals know this, but they don’t care about your safety. Instead, they take advantage of the situation. After a collision, they replace your airbag with an inferior knockoff and charge your insurance company. They do this even if your airbag didn’t deploy during the accident. Some sell your intact airbag on the black market. Shockingly, sometimes, the crook doesn’t even install a knockoff airbag. They simply fill the compartment with junk.
- Windshield scam – If you’re approached by a windshield “guy” in a busy parking lot, gas station, or car wash, don’t fall for their con. These scammers convince motorists that their windshield is defective. Their big selling point is in assuring you that your insurance company will cover the whole bill. They charge your carrier for unnecessary repairs. You receive sub-standard work and no warranty. Some of these con artists submit multiple claims against your policy.
Avoid being tricked by these bad actors. And be wary of offers of anything free. The windshield scammers often present their marks with free movie tickets, coupons for dinners, and even cash “rebate” offers.
Not all car insurance scams are perpetrated by career criminals. Sometimes, car owners may be tempted to engage in fraud to enrich themselves. Two popular scams by vehicle owners are vehicle dumping and false registration.
An owner with comprehensive full-coverage will be reimbursed if their vehicle is stolen. Someone looking for easy cash might dispose of their auto themselves and then report it stolen. Insurance companies call this an “owner give up” and it’s a crime, as are all car insurance scams. Some owners double down on this rip-off by selling their vehicle and then claiming auto theft with their carrier.
Neighborhood statistics affect insurance premiums. Zip codes with higher incidences of car theft and other crimes command higher coverage rates. To avoid these payment bumps, an auto owner may lie about where they live. Instead, they provide an address in a neighborhood with lower theft statistics. The carrier likely won’t discover this fraud until the policyholder files a claim. When they really need that coverage, it will be denied due to fraud.
Big companies aren’t the only victims in car insurance scams. If you become a target, your insurance rating will suffer. This translates to higher premiums. Your insurance company may even cancel your policy.
If you’ve been involved in an accident, turn to reputable service providers for help. Check them out online and ask for references. If you’re in an auto collision in New Jersey, The Reinartz Law Firm can provide experienced legal guidance and trustworthy resources. Contact us to discuss your claim.