Insurance fraud is one reason insurance premiums can increase. Learn some ways to prevent it.
Answers to your questions
What is insurance fraud and how can I prevent it?
Insurance fraud schemes are planned by criminals to collect on insurance policies by inflating or creating false claim reports. Fraud leads to higher insurance rates and costs Americans billions of dollars each year. Staging auto accidents and padding insurance claims are two common types of insurance fraud.
- You can help prevent fraud by being aware of these crimes and acting mindfully when you're behind the wheel or in an accident.
- Drive carefully and call the police to get a police report if you're involved in an accident, no matter how minor the damages.
- Take photos of accident damages and document the number of passengers in other involved vehicles.
- Beware of suspicious people at accident scenes and unscrupulous doctors and attorneys.
If you suspect insurance fraud, report it to the National Insurance Crime Bureau at 800.TEL.NICB.
How can I protect my vehicle from being stolen?
When you're not in your vehicle, protect it from theft by locking your doors and taking your keys with you. Close windows completely and park in well-lit areas. Garage your vehicle at home, if possible; lock the door to your home from your garage; and don't leave the keys in your car or near the door where they could be easily taken.
Installing an alarm system or other visible or audible device, such as a steering wheel lock, can also deter thieves. If you live in an area with high auto theft or you're especially concerned about your vehicle, immobilizer systems like smart keys or kill switches make it more difficult for thieves to hotwire your car. A tracking system helps find and recover stolen vehicles quicker.
What should I watch for when buying a vehicle?
It's important to know the background of the vehicle you're buying or you might end up with a stolen or damaged vehicle.
Vehicle cloning is used to sell stolen vehicles. Criminals copy a vehicle identification number (VIN) from a legally owned and documented vehicle. They replace the stolen vehicle's VIN with the legally owned VIN. Other ownership documents are also created so the vehicle can be sold. When purchasing a vehicle, double check the vehicle's VIN with your state's motor vehicle department registry, review past owners and look for any suspicious patterns. If you have questions, research the vehicle's history through online services such as carfax.com or hire a private company.
Watch out for new and used flood-damaged vehicles on the market. Check NICB's database of known vehicles and watercraft affected by flooding and have a certified mechanic inspect the auto for corrosion, electrical and other serious flood-related damage.
How can I avoid being scammed by a repair service after a catastrophe?
If someone comes to your home offering their services, such as clean-up or repairs, follow these suggestions from the NICB before entering into a business agreement:
- Get multiple estimates for services and don't rush into any decisions.
- Get all agreements in writing, including detailed information about cost, work to be done, schedule, guarantees and other concerns.
- Don't hire someone without checking references first.
- Confirm the service person's identity by recording his or her name and drivers' license and license plate number.
- Never pay the full amount due in advance or sign a certificate of completion until the work is finished.
- Never sign a contract with blanks. Dishonest contractors could enter information later that could cost you.
If you believe you may be the victim of disaster fraud, contact your independent agent, QBE or the NICB at 800.TEL.NICB.
Visit these websites for additional information about insurance fraud.
Tips you can use
Americans pay hundreds of dollars more each year for their insurance because of fraud. You can help reduce fraud and protect yourself by following these suggestions.