Auto glass fraud 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 dollars and the thieves are very creative in how they submit claims. Insurance companies are starting to use technology, and dedicated staff and band together to combat the issue. Let’s face it, and glass fraud is costing us consumers and insurance companies a HUGE amount of money and taking away from everyone’s bottom line. The cost is so high that special internal units are being formed to investigate glass fraud.
So What Is Glass Fraud?
Unethical glass shops 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. Much more money is to be made on a new windshield than 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, 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 replacement ratios are 20% to 40% better than Arizona’s 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 as a replacement.
- The incentive aspect for the replacement may drive the unnecessary replacement where a consumer may not be thinking of the actual effects 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, which is some quick cash, and it is hard to prove it was not broken if it has a crack.
Why Consider A Repair To A Replacement?
As a consumer, assuming a chip should be repaired and not replaced, why fix it?
- The windshield does not need to be cut out of the car, preserving 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 accessible 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 that most glass companies 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 policyholders $350 per claim.
- Discourages shops that commit glass replacement fraud.
What are glass coverages 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 uncommon claims while enabling them to have coverage to address windshield chips and replacements at a much-reduced cost.
- In some states, chip repairs are free if you have comprehensive coverage.
- 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 interesting comment about why the law exists in Arizona was that without it, consumers would drive around with cracked windshields, putting themselves and others at risk. By having a law 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; 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, and Google Reviews… It’s only a few clicks away on a mobile phone.
- Please do not assume you have the coverage or take the glass company’s word for it; check with your agent or insurance company.
- Call your insurance agent’s office for recommendations to 2-3 companies.
- Call your insurance company’s 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 salespeople are no exception. In the past, they used to be very aggressive, get in your face, and get a bad rap for fraud. However, times have changed, and insurance companies and the state Department of Insurance are cracking down on fraud; the Hindu story is primarily ethical. For more information on car wash fraud cases, search Google.
If you encounter a very aggressive glass salesperson at a car wash, I would walk away and complain to management as they have a vested interest in keeping happy clients versus the revenue share they get from the glass company. I would assume people 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 has a chip or crack, you can take your car anywhere you want to get the windshield repaired!
If you have an agent, which I hope you do, I recommend you call their office and let them help you fix your windshield. 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 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 ranks this blog posting #1 in the search results!
I took all my feedback from my undercover investigation and posted videos and articles at AutoGlassSecrets.com. The website focuses exclusively on auto glass windshield replacement, chip repair, and crack repair-related fraud and scams. Take a look and let me know your suggestions.