NICB Warns of Insurance Scams Involving Unsolicited Service Providers

insurance scam

Each year consumers pay more for their auto and homeowners insurance policies as a direct result of fraud. We’ve all heard the stories-unnecessary auto glass repairs, aggressive and exorbitant towing charges, needless home repairs, total roof replacements, sinkhole damage, solicitation of accident victims. These and other kinds of insurance scams contribute to an annual loss amount estimated to be $30 billion just within the property and casualty industry.

Repair scams have one common element-a solicitation from an individual offering repair services. If a homeowner has requested an inspection or if an insurance company has authorized a vendor to conduct an inspection, that’s one thing. But an unsolicited, unexpected and random “inspection” visit from a service provider, whether it’s a glass repair technician, a roofer or a structural engineer looking for sinkhole damage to your home, could be the first step in a fraud scam. That is why NICB advises consumers to always consult their insurance company first before allowing anyone to perform any inspection or repair work that will be covered by their insurance.

Essentially, any unsolicited contact with you is a key indicator of possible fraud. When someone knocks on your door for a roof inspection and you did not request it; when you are approached at a service station by a glass repair technician offering “free” repair work; when a contractor appears at your door to provide an estimate for replacing your storm-damaged siding-all of these are potentially fraud precursors. If you didn’t request it-reject it.

Not everyone who makes unsolicited contacts with homeowners or people involved in an auto accident is looking to rip you off. But it is an unfortunate sign of the times that when we find examples of repair or auto accident solicitation scams, they began with an unsolicited visit or contact.

The best time to ask questions about your coverage is before you buy it. Make sure you understand how your policies will perform in the event you need to submit a claim.

When considering home repairs, NICB recommends that consumers consider these tips before hiring a contractor:

 

 

  • Contact your insurance company first
  • Get more than one estimate
  • Get everything in writing. Cost, work to be done, time schedules, guarantees, payment schedules and other expectations should be detailed
  • Demand references and check them out
  • Ask to see the salesperson’s driver’s license and write down the license number and their vehicle’s license plate number
  • Never sign a contract with blanks; unacceptable terms can be added later
  • Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until the work is finished and ensure reconstruction is up to current code
  • Make sure you review and understand all documents sent to your insurance carrier
  • Never let a contractor pressure you into hiring them
  • Never let a contractor interpret the insurance policy language
  • Never let a contractor discourage you from contacting your insurance company

To report any type of insurance fraud, call toll-free 1-800-TEL-NICB (1-800-835-6422), text keyword “fraud” to TIP411 (847411), or visit www.nicb.org.