Insurance companies, brokers, and other insurance organizations want everyone to be aware of possible insurance and consumer fraud from dishonest Auto Repair and Towing Facilities.

Keep in the mind insurance money is your money. You, as an insurance buyer, pay up to 15% EXTRA on your insurance policy that potentially goes to fraudulent claims. Seemingly normal law-abiding citizens, who are out to make a few extra bucks may overcharge or pad the bill, thinking that insurance companies are faceless victims, because no one is getting hurt.  Insurance fraud hurts us all.

While fraudulent schemes seem to be everywhere these days, as people find more creative to steal money, but there are some basic schemes that are familiar enough:

Exaggerated repairs are done and added to repair bills, claim or no claim. Repair facilities may charge you for items not broken when you went in.  This may also involve dismantling parts that are fine, installing damaged parts, to show the insurance adjuster more repairs are required, then replacing the bad parts with the original car parts.

Repair bills may include items that were never damaged and never replaced.

Inflated towing claims – rather than the set insurance rates, tow operators may overcharge for pickup or extra mileage, or take you to the wrong place, when they know better. Beware tow operators recommending an unknown repair facility.  These may be dishonest facilities that overcharge, do false repairs, etc. and give kickbacks to the tow operator to find damaged cars on the roads.

Safety Airbag schemes – When your car is in for repairs, they may replace your good airbag for a defective black-market airbag that might be second hand, or without the gas cartridge.  If your airbag does deploy, you might be refitted with a black-market airbag, and you or your insurer are charged for a new retail airbag.

Tips to keep this kind of fraud in check:

Use friends and family in tracking down a reputable repair facility.  Ensure the facility has clean, modern equipment.  Check for approval from consumer services like BBB or BCAA, or various Insurance companies.  These are posted in their main office area and should be up to date.

Check your insurance company for certified auto repairs.  Insurance companies spend a lot of time determining which facilities are less likely to be dishonest, and will investigate consumer claims.

ICBC has the C.A.R. (Certified Auto Repair) facilities, including the elite VALET facilities.  These can be listed on www.ICBC.com. ICBC goes to great detail to ensure honest facilities. All rates are pre-negotiated.

Upfront, insist that work include a written warranty.

Report auto repair fraud.  Do not be embarrassed that it happened to you.  You should receive an honest service from repair shops and tow facilities.  Report your suspicions to your insurance company, to the police, and to any consumer services that have approved the repair facility.  Don’t just have the facility ‘make good’ their mistakes, ensure that others are not taken by the same fraudsters, and shut them down.

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