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South Carolina is a target for auto-glass fraud

March 26, 2012




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Russ Dubisky, Executive Director
803-252-3455 or cell phone 803-708-5271
russd@scinsnews.com

COLUMBIA, S.C. – March 26, 2012 – Many South Carolinians have recently experienced aggressive marketing tactics from some auto-glass repair companies and their door-to-door style sales approach. More drivers are being pressured in parking lots, car washes, and gas stations to replace any chipped or cracked windshields immediately as to receive some supposed benefit.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s most recent data, questionable auto-glass claims have spiked to a level that places South Carolina among the top five states in the country. South Carolina has more frequent indications of fraud on auto-glass than any of its neighboring states, and even more than some of the more populous states like New York and California. Questionable claims are submitted for suspected automobile-glass fraud in order to help identify any trends or patterns.

“Unfortunately, South Carolinians are a prime target for ‘glass harvesting’ or ‘windshield bullies’,” said Russ Dubisky, executive director of the South Carolina Insurance News Service. “In addition to their unsolicited and aggressive sales pitches, glass harvesters can drive up the cost of insurance over time as they often increase claims and expenses for insurers.”

South Carolina is one of only four states in the country where insurance companies are required by law to allow customers to purchase a windshield replacement using insurance with no deductible, as long as they have comprehensive insurance coverage on their vehicle. These states are commonly referred to as "zero deductible states." With no direct cost to consumers, it is suspected that many windshields are being replaced when small chips could simply be repaired at a lower cost. The difference could mean putting about $400 more in a glass company’s pocket at the insurer’s expense.
Zero deductible states attract “glass harvesters” or “windshield bullies” and their high-pressure sales techniques that convince people to replace their windshields. Some of these companies emphasize that you are entitled to a free windshield. However, what they often fail to mention is that many small chips and cracks can be repaired, and by inflating the claim to cover the cost of replacing the entire windshield, they may be attempting to defraud you and your insurer.

Insurance fraud is anything but a victimless crime. While the exact amount of fraud is difficult to determine, the Insurance Information Institute estimates that ten percent of the insurance industry’s losses and adjustment expenses can be attributed to fraud. Fraud is an expensive problem for insurance consumers. According to the NAIC’s report on average expenditures, while South Carolina vehicle owners pay less than the national average for the total amount of auto insurance, they pay approximately ten percent more than the average for the portion that covers the comprehensive costs, which includes the coverage to replace auto-glass.

The most important aspect of the windshield repair process is safety. Insurers want to repair windshields in a manner that meets all safety requirements and allows savings to be passed along to their customers.

Public awareness is critical in a zero deductible environment that attracts glass harvesters and costly insurance fraud. The following tips can help protect consumers against windshield bullies:

• If you detect a chip or crack in your windshield, contact your insurance company or agent to begin the claims process.
• Beware of any company that emphasizes ways for you to get a free windshield – paid for by your insurance company, and pressures you to act right away.
• Most insurance policy language allows the right to inspect damage to a windshield before it can be replaced, so people should be cautious of offers to replace the windshield immediately, on the spot.

For more information from the S.C. Insurance News Service, or to schedule an interview, call (803)252-3455.

For over 35 years, the South Carolina Insurance News Service has been providing free insurance information to consumers and the media about property and casualty insurance issues.

For more information, contact the South Carolina Insurance News Service at 803-252-3455 or use our contact form.

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