Collision Repair Fraud

There are many ways in which unscrupulous repair shops can commit collision repair fraud. Some of the more popular methods are as follows:

  • Airbag Fraud: Airbag fraud is when a dishonest repair shop gets the insurance company to pay for a new airbag by replacing a non-deployed airbag with a previously deployed one or pulling the non-deployed airbag out and then replacing it with a cheap black market airbag. In either event, the repair shop makes a significant profit. Further information on Airbag Fraud can be found here.
  • Bandit Tow Trucks: A tow truck driver persuades an owner to let them transport their vehicle to a supposedly legitimate repair shop. Thereafter, the vehicle is essentially held hostage while the tow truck driver attempts to extract payment from the insurance company. They may also try to refer the owner to doctors and attorneys who will also attempt to defraud the insurance company.
  • Burying the Deductible: When a vehicle owner and repair shop owner conspire to "bury" the deductible, it means the cost of the deductible is hidden in the estimate. This is typically accomplished by charging the insurance company for new parts and repairing the vehicle with cheap aftermarket parts, or repaired/junk parts.
  • Inflating Estimates: This is a simple method of fraud wherein costs to repair a vehicle are inflated either by exaggerating the damage to the vehicle or billing the insurance company for parts that are not installed or repairs that are never completed.

Here are some handy tips for identifying and avoiding fraud:

  • Only use a reputable vehicle repair facility with ASE-certified body mechanics.
  • Use a repair facility that has been recommended by your insurance company.
  • Make sure the repair facility is clean and uses modern, well-maintained equipment.
  • Obtain a written damage report in lieu of an estimate so you have a detailed idea of what needs to be repaired.
  • Make sure the work done to your vehicle is warranted.