It is estimated that there are an average of 80,000 windshields replaced every month in Arizona! But just how many of these really needed to be replaced??
We have all been approached by persistent auto glass salespeople representing Phoenix auto glass companies at our local car washes:
- “I can repair those chips in your windshield within minutes,” they say.
- “We just need your insurance policy information and you will be on your way.”
However, repairing minor chips and cracks is one thing; total replacement of your windshield when it’s not necessary costs everyone, including you, additional money and possibly even jail time!
In some states, insurance companies are required by law to waive the deductible for damaged or broken windshields in an effort to encourage vehicle owners to make the repairs. However, some companies are using that loophole to convince consumers they can have new windshields for free since they are fully covered.
The dishonest glass companies, also referred to as “glass claims harvesters,” will rent parking lot space from Arizona auto repair facilities, car washes or gas stations to seek business through unnecessary auto glass replacements. Once the car owner agrees to the deal, the harvester will subcontract the replacement with another, less expensive glass company and turn a profit from your insurance claim. Some harvesters will impersonate the insured and obtain multiple glass claims.
The following are several windshield replacement scams you should be aware of:
- Replacing expensive windshields which only have a small crack or chip that could easily be fixed. They might also charge insurers to replace several chips when only one chip was repaired. Some con artists charge your policy for several windshield replacements without you knowing it!
- The crooks might convince motorists to participate by offering freebies such as steaks, movie tickets or car washes. In addition, they might offer cash rebates or inflate the repair bill to cover the deductible.
Oftentimes, these “fly-by-night” operators are poorly trained and work out of pickup trucks in parking lots, quickly disappearing after the shoddy repairs. You might see them approach people at car washes, gas stations or conveniences stores. In addition to the safety risk from cheap substandard glass or shoddy workmanship, you could face increased premiums or possible loss of coverage due to multiple hits on your policy.
And the worst possible scenario? You could face jail and fines for insurance fraud!
Everyone else’s premiums also increase in the long run due to fraud losses passed onto honest policyholders.
According to Doug Ashbridge, Director of Special Investigations for Farmers Insurance Group, property casualty insurance fraud costs consumers $20 billion each year and is probably present in as many as 10 percent of claims filed.
If you are approached by a salesperson insisting on an unnecessary windshield replacement, just say no! Report the incident to your state insurance department. If you need repairs, contact your insurance agent for reputable glass companies in your area.