Tuesday, 29 July 2014 00:00

Windshield Replacement Scam Hits Utah, Insurance Department Warns Consumers

When faced with the need to replace a windshield, many car owners look for the least expensive option. But in a scam that’s hitting Utah, crooks present a nearly irresistible option: replace it for free.

 “You don’t need to do anything, just give us your personal information, give us your insurance information and your date of birth and those types of things,” said Armand Glick, director of the Utah Insurance Department’s fraud division.

The division recently investigated six people who were arrested after going door-to-door with offers of windshield replacement.

“Initially, those windshields were actually repaired,” he said. “But the sales agent called up the insurance company and impersonated the policy-holder.”

 It’s not just a one-time deal, Glick said. Once they have insurance info, a scammer will keep submitting false claim after false claim, getting money from the policy without the policy-holder even knowing it.

Troy Mason owns and operates 20 TechnaGlass auto glass shops in Utah. “Any claim against your insurance is going to have some impact,” he warns consumers.

He said not only does this scam jack up insurance premiums, it also puts personal safety at risk. A poorly installed windshield could pop out in an accident. Glick said the best way to protect yourself, other than avoiding door-to-door sales pitches, is to contact your insurance agent and have him or her work out payment with the auto glass installer. To find a certified auto glass shop, go to safewindshields.org.

“If you get in a rollover accident, 30 percent of the strength of that roof is from that windshield,” he explained.

Mason said airbags also exert a lot of force on a windshield when they deploy. A windshield not firmly glued in place might get blown out. “You’re not going to get the full effect and safety of that system,” he said.

If someone approaches you about replacing your windshield, don’t do it, Mason advised. Besides opening yourself to a potential scam and physical harm, there’s a good chance your windshield doesn’t need repair.

“A lot of times they’re showing you just surface damage to the windshield,” Mason said. “The surface damage does not need to be repaired on a windshield unless there’s a break in the glass.”

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