Auto glass fraud can fracture your relationship with your auto insurance company

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Crawford Frazer

Whether a truck kicks up a rock that zooms out of nowhere or your car's been vandalized, damage to your windshield can be frustrating -- and dangerous if it obstructs your view of the road. But despite your eagerness to fix it, don't fall victim to the scam artists out there who take advantage of drivers in this situation.

Auto glass scams

Glass repair fraudsters will try to convince you that your insurance will cover any repairs. But once they have your insurance information, they can make sky-high claims to cover their work -- and even make claims for unnecessary repairs. So it's vital to spot scams before they happen. There are some common characteristics among auto glass repair scammers, according to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud:

  • Location.Beware of those who approach you in parking lots and at car washes, convenience stores or other public places. Also be wary of those working out of their trucks.
  • Unnecessary repairs.If you don't see an immediate need to repair your windshield, don't believe someone who approaches you and offers to do so. Likewise, be distrustful of someone -- even in a seemingly reputable body shop -- who tries to convince you that a single ding means you should replace an entire windshield.
  • Rebates and gifts.If someone offers you a rebate to cover your deductible or tries to win you over with free tickets, a car wash or other gifts, you should decline the freebies.

The costs of glass scams

From the first half of 2009 to 2010, auto glass fraud skyrocketed 527 percent, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. And that costs all drivers.

When repairs are made by scam artists, the quality may be poor. The glass could break or even pop out while you're driving. In addition, there are auto insurance implications:

  • Every time you make an insurance claim (or a scammer makes one for "repairs" to your car), you increase the chance of your premium rising, according to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.
  • If you've made other recent claims, you may end up filing too many and lose your policy.
  • When claims are widespread, everyone's premiums rise.
  • If the glass claim is fraudulent (and you know it), you may be fined or jailed, according to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.

How to avoid glass scams

According to State Farm, small chips can often be repaired without replacing the entire windshield. Nevada repair shop Auto Glass Las Vegas offers the following tips for dealing with potential scammers:

  • Always get a written estimate before any repairs to your car are made.
  • Do not let someone make repairs "off the books." They're probably uncertified.
  • Do not accept "cash back" offers or other perks.
  • When someone claims to be the only authorized shop for your insurance, verify this with your insurer.

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