Automobile Accidents can be a stressful event. The last thing you need to worry about after a car accident is fraud perpetrated by unscrupulous repair shops or tow truck drivers.
The NICB (National Insurance Crime Bureau) has recently put out a checklist to help the unwary accident victim from becoming a victim once again to these dishonest predators.
One of the most common occurrences would be a tow truck driver showing up immediately after you’ve gotten in an accident, without you calling them. They listen to police scanners and jump in their trucks the second they hear of an accident. They’ll tell you they work with your insurance company and that they can take care of the repairs without you having to worry about finding a shop to pick it up. The problem is, you don’t know anything about these guys.
The NICB warns that, while most shops and tow truck operators are honest and hardworking, there are plenty of nefarious operators out there who are just waiting to take advantage of this type of situation.
Once you’ve agreed to let them take your car, you can fall prey to all kinds of tricks. They will charge you fees for any and all kinds of things they can think up. Did they store your car in their lot? There’s a storage fee. Did they put your car up on an Automotive Lift to inspect it? Theres an inspection fee. Did they process any paperwork? There’s a processing fee. Plus, they will do anything they can to get you to have them perform the service. If they towed your car to their lot, but you want your auto shop to perform the work, they will jack up their fees well beyond what is reasonable and customary.
This happened to me about a year ago after I got in an accident that caused a significant amount of damage to my truck. I had the tow truck driver bring it to his shop, with plans of having him transfer it to a different body shop later. Once he found out he wasn’t doing the repairs, he got very angry and jacked up the fees to ridiculous levels. The insurance company said that this was not uncommon and that they would not pay such an unreasonable rate.
The NICB warns that if law enforcement did not call them to the scene, do not use the tow / wrecker company. Use the company the police recommend, or contact your own local shop. Even if it will take longer for them to get out to the scene to pick up your car, it will be worth it in the long run. You don’t want to be paying for these rogue operators to outfit their garage with new Automotive Equipment because you were taken advantage of.
What about you? Have you had any similar experiences? Share them with us by commenting below.