Insurance companies spend millions every year investigating scams that cripple their bottom line. By arming yourself with the facts about insurance scams, you too can learn to be prepared in the event of an accident. Following these few simple rules should help you spot the bad guys if you ever run into each other.
Types of Accident Scams
Swoops, t-bones and sideswipes are just a few examples of the types of accident scams. Drivers of these vehicles use carefully-planned maneuvers to cause an accident, with the intent of defrauding your insurance company. There are warning signs indicating you may be the victim of a scam. Does the driver appear to be uninjured but insists on medical treatment? Are multiple victims in the vehicle complaining of similar symptoms? Is a doctor or lawyer mentioned almost immediately? These are all red flags that may signal an insurance scam.
Auto Shops are notorious for being unscrupulous, but not all are bad. Choosing a reputable and well-known mechanic to fix your vehicle can be the best decision you make in avoiding fraud. If the driver of the other vehicle insists you visit “his mechanic”, or offers you a “deal” to get your vehicle fixed, chances are you’re being scammed. If the mechanic you choose offers to charge a lower cash deductible in exchange for less out-of-pocket expense to you, chances are you’re being suckered.
Auto Shops can fudge the numbers easily because labor prices vary, costing your insurance company thousands. The best way to protect yourself against a seedy auto shop is to rely upon your insurance company. Your adjustor should have a list of “preferred” shops they work with on a regular basis.
Another way you can get scammed is by a chiropractor. Some doctors pay investigators to conduct daily searches of police reports to find accidents serious enough to warrant a check-up. You may have walked away without a scratch, but chances are you’ll be stiff the next day, and chiropractors spend thousands to get your name on a marketing list within 24 hours. They call with the initial claim of setting up one appointment to get “checked out”. Then he may insist on x-rays, diagnosing you with “whiplash.” Since whiplash and stiffness are very similar, you could be duped into dozens of doctors’ appointments to treat symptoms you don’t have. Be skeptical of any doctor or chiropractor that insists on several weeks of treatment and consider getting a second opinion.
There’s a reason why lawyers are referred to as “ambulance chasers.” Some lawyers make their entire living off the backs of insurance companies through frivolous cases and in some instances, conspiring with the driver of the other vehicle. Be extremely cautious if the other driver refers you to an attorney, or insists you speak to his before talking to your insurance company. There could be a lawyer just chomping at the bit to take your statement and manipulate it. If you are contacted by a lawyer immediately following an accident, chances are he saw your name on an accident report and is eager to take someone to court. If the situation truly warrants legal input, chances are your insurance company has one on staff to assist you.
Having an accident can be frustrating, but knowing the signs of a scam and keeping an open line of communication with your insurance company can save you thousands down the road.