Auto glass fraud and and windshield replacement scams are one HUGE reason your auto premiums are rising. Glass fraud is everywhere and hard to detect because the claims are usually low dollar and the thieves are very creative in how they submit claims. Insurance companies are starting to use technology, dedicated staff and band together to combat the issue. Let’s face it, glass fraud is costing us consumers and insurance companies a HUGE amount of money and taking away from everyone’s bottom line. As a matter of fact the cost is so high, that special internal units are being formed to investigate glass fraud.
So What Is Glass Fraud?
Unethical glass shop have so many different scams which range from simple to very complex. Here are some simple examples::
- Replace your window when a chip only needs to be repaired. There is much more money to be made on a new windshield verses fixing a crack.
- Tell you that you have a chip when indeed you do not.
- Once they have your insurance and personal information, they will put in fraudulent claims at a future date with someone impersonating you in a call to your insurance company.
- Sometimes they will tell a consumer the repair is free and the consumer finds out later that is not the case and they are on the hook because they did not have the $0 glass deductible coverage.
- They will bill insurance companies out of a different zip code to get a higher price for the repair.
Here is one special investigative report by News 10 out of Florida. I have to assume the same will happen in Arizona, it is just a matter of time.
So What About The Incentives?
In Arizona it is not illegal for companies to offer incentives to market for new business window replacements. If you look at Arizona compared to our neighboring states, their repair verses replace rations are 20% to 40% better than the Arizona 18% repair rate. For example NM 44%, CA 38%, NV 62%, UT 40%, TX 73%, and CO 40%. Why are incentives legal in Arizona? That is a good question for your state representative.
Why Could The Arizona 18% Repair Rate Be So Low Compared to Neighboring States?
Here are some thoughts that come to mind.
- A repair does not generate as much profit for as a replacement.
- The incentive aspect for the replacement may drive the unnecessary replacement where a consumer may not be thinking of the true affects on auto glass coverage premium, or maybe they have the attitude I might as well get what I can out of the system as I am paying for it.
- I get paid to replace my window, that is some quick cash and it is hard to prove it was not broken if indeed it has a crack.
Why Consider A Repair To A Replacement?
As a consumer, assuming a chip should be repaired and not replace, why repair it?
- The windshield does not need to be cut out of the car, pre serving the integrity of the original glass. There is a big difference in the type of sealer the installer uses when replacing the glass to avoid unnecessary future warranty issues. Remember cheap is cheap, what is your time worth.
- It is free to the customers. Many insurance companies provide free chip repair if you have comprehensive coverage.
- It is environmentally friendly.
- It is much faster than a replacement.
- It will never cause your windshield to leak or make wind noise. Talk to someone that has had a bad experience with wind noise. Ouch! The good news is most glass companies that are on an auto insurance network will provide a warranty and fix, but then again what is your time worth.
- On average, a fix saves insurance policy holders $350 per claim.
- Discourages shops that commit glass replacement fraud.
What Glass Coverages Are Available?
Chip repairs and window replacements are usually subject to a comprehensive deductible. To help control the costs of premiums and give consumers options, insurance companies introduced the $0 Glass Coverage and Glass Buy Back Coverage. These coverages allow the consumer to have a higher Comprehensive deductible for the uncommon claims while allowing them to have coverage to address windshield chips and replacements at a much reduced cost.
- In some states, if you have comprehensive coverage, chip repairs are free.
- In a few states like Arizona, you can buy $0 Deductible Glass Coverage (Full Glass) which provides free chip repairs and window replacements. I believe there are currently five states offering this coverage. You will see a lot of glass companies in those states. One comment I found interesting as to why the law exists in Arizona was that without it, consumers will drive around with cracked windshields, putting themselves and others at risk. By having a law on allowing the $0 glass deductible, there is no reason for consumers not to protect themselves.
- In other states, you can get Glass Buyback Coverage which usually reduces the out of pocket deductible to something like $50 or $100 for cracked windshield replacement.
How Do I Protect Myself?
First and foremost, use good common sense and if it is too good to be true leave!
- Watch out for the pitch “Why would you want a repair when I can get you a new windshield for free.”
- Only deal with reputable glass companies. Check out their BBB, Department Of Insurance complaints against them, Yelp, Google Review… It’s only a few clicks away on a mobile phone.
- Do not assume you have the coverage or take the glass companies word for it, check with your agent or insurance company.
- Call your insurance agents office for recommendation to 2-3 companies.
- Call your insurance companies 800 claims number to have them send someone out.
- Check with a networking group like Business Networking International (BNI) that will have one profession per category. They usually have a glass company represented in the group.
My Agent Told Me To Stay Away From Car Washes?
Let’s face it there are unethical people everywhere and car wash glass sales people are no exception. In the past they used to be very aggressive, get in your face and got a bad rap for fraud. However, times have changed and with insurance companies and state Department of Insurance are cracking down on the fraud, the industry for the most part ethical. For more information on car wash fraud cases, just search Google.
If you do encounter a very aggressive glass sales person at a car wash, I would walk away and complain to management as they have a vested interest in keeping happy clients verses the revenue share they get from the glass company. I would assume people that are not heard by management may use social media like Facebook, Google Reviews and Yelp to voice their opinion. See my recommendation in the next section.
Advice From An Agent and Jim’s Final Thought
If your windshield with has a chip or crack, you have the right to take your car anywhere you want to get the windshield repaired!
If you have an agent, which I hope you do, I would recommend that you call their office and let them help you get your windshield fixed. They will know who the reputable companies are in your area and will refer you to 2-3 of them in addition to their insurance companies 800 claims line that can recommend a glass company. Each State has different laws regulating steering glass business in any one direction, so you will find some agents only referring you directly to the 800 claims number in your state to avoid any issues.
Final Thought On Glass Fraud and Message For Glass Shops
Quick Update! The Response Has Been Overwhelming!
I was shocked at the response this blog post received from the Media, Glass Shop Owners, Glass Installers, and Insurance Special Investigators, and as a result, Google is ranking this blog posting #1 in the search results!
I took all my feedback from my undercover investigation and have posted videos and articles at AutoGlassSecrets.com. The website is exclusively focused on auto glass windshield replacement, chip repair, and crack repair related fraud and scams. Take a look and let me know your suggestions.