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Protecting Yourself From Auto Repair Fraud

Understanding auto insurance fraud – image source: FSCO

In our latest series of posts, we have been covering the topic of auto insurance fraud, starting with protecting yourself from fraud when buying auto insurance in Ontario and then moving on to preventing auto insurance fraud after you’ve been in a collision.

In this third post of the series, we’re going to look at how to protect yourself from auto repair fraud.

What is auto repair fraud?

To start off with, let’s look at what auto insurance fraud is.

To recap, there are three different types of auto insurance fraud, as we’ve talked about in our previous posts. In a nutshell they are…

~ Organized fraud: Involving staged collisions that are then the basis of fraudulent claims.

~ Premeditated fraud: Making up a story around a loss.

~ Opportunistic fraud: Taking advantage of an existing situation by exaggerating claims.

Auto repair fraud specifically references the above types of fraud as they relate to the process of repairing your car.

Examples of auto repair fraud

To give some examples of auto repair fraud, we could be talking about signing for car repairs that were not actually done or needed. Or overstating the damage to a car and the ensuing repairs that would be needed. Or a car repair shop that actually damages your vehicle on purpose, or inflates the cost of your repairs in order to charge more and increase the bill.

Auto repair fraud and insurance

And then to take things into the insurance world, fraudulent claims can be made, such as making a claim for a repair that was not related to a collision for example. Such fraud can happen with or without the knowledge or participation of the car owner. Another example would be someone after an accident trying to direct you towards a specific auto repair shop.

How to protect yourself

Follow these tips to help avoid fraud with auto repairs…

~ Don’t have a trusted mechanic or auto repair professional you can turn to? Check in with your insurance company for a list of body shops they work with.

~ Do some due diligence when selecting where to take you car. Check out BBB ratings and search Ontario’s Consumer Beware list.

~ Make sure that the mechanic you are using has a license.

~ Before you leave your car for repairs, get an estimate in writing for the work that was agreed to. And then use this to review the final bill you receive.

~ If you’re unsure about the work being recommended, or suspect that “urgent” problems that are found are a scam, don’t feel pressured to agree to the work. Ask for a detailed estimate and then take the time to do your due diligence – research the manufacturer recommendations for your car, review your invoices for the previous work done on your car to see if you’re being pushed into a repair or service too soon, or check in with someone you trust who is knowledgeable about cars (f you’re lucky enough to know someone like this).

~ Never pay for work that you did not authorize. You can always get the police involved if need be, as body shops must receive your permission to complete repairs.

~ If after an accident someone involved is pushing you towards a specific body shop, never follow their recommendation and let your insurer know.

If you suspect fraud at the repair shop you’ve gone to, let your insurance company know, and file a complaint with the government (check out this page for more information and to file your complaint online).

Check out this handy brochure from the government of Ontario or go to the specific page with more details about car repair shops in our province and your rights.

We all should do what we can to prevent auto insurance fraud. Increased fraud results in increased auto insurance rates and costs us all.

Think you’ve been a victim of or witness to auto insurance fraud? Click here to let the Insurance Bureau of Canada know or here to get in touch with the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA).

Have any questions about getting the best rates for auto insurance coverage in Toronto and around Ontario? Want to learn more about auto insurance fraud? Contact one of our insurance specialists today, or click here to get an auto insurance quote online.

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