Automobile Insurance Fraud and How to Protect Yourself

by Barry P. Goldberg, A Professional Law Corporation
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Fraud occurs when an individual knowingly and intentionally lies to obtain a benefit or advantage to which he/she is not actually entitled or when an individual knowingly and intentionally denies a benefit to someone who is entitled. There are several forms of automobile insurance fraud in California. The most common of these schemes are automobile property and automobile accidents. While law enforcement attempts to fight back, staged accidents and insurance fraud are steadily increasing in California.

Automobile Property

This type of fraud involves dishonest auto body and repair shops. There are many things that auto mechanics in the San Fernando Valley can do that are illegal or questionable.

Examples of automobile property fraud include:

  • Falsely reporting stolen vehicles or vandalism of vehicles in order to collect money from insurance
  • Reporting parts of vehicles as damaged or lost when they were not actually damaged or lost prior to the shop receiving the vehicle
  • Billing for repairs that were not authorized
  • Making the final cost more than the original estimate of damage
  • Charging for genuine parts when they actually used aftermarket or used parts
  • Using counterfeit parts
  • Fixing dents or repair issues but charging for brand new parts

This list is not exhaustive. An experienced attorney who deals with auto insurance fraud can go over the various types of auto property fraud with you in further detail.

As a consumer, it is important to research auto body and repair shops. After an auto accident or other necessary repair, request a written estimate before work begins. You should also ask for your old part(s) back in order to ensure that they actually replaced the part(s). Make sure that your bill is itemized with all of the work and each part used. Carefully review all paperwork from auto body and repair shops in order to protect against potential fraud.

Automobile Accidents and Fraud

This type of fraud involves organized auto accident rings. This means that auto body and repair shops, attorneys, doctors, chiropractors, other medical professionals, and/or office administrators orchestrate the collision. A staged "accident" may result in injuries that are excessive compared to the vehicle damage, involve passengers who were not in the vehicle at the time of the accident, and/or be witnessed by people who were not actually at the scene of the accident. An attorney may even contact you after the accident without being solicited.

If you were involved in an accident, always call the police, especially if you feel that something is suspicious. You should report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. You should never settle with a cash payment at the scene of the accident. In addition, you should be very cautious of any unsolicited referral to an auto body or repair shop, law office, or medical office.

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Barry P. Goldberg, A Professional Law Corporation | Attorney Advertising

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