Insurance companies say automobile owners around the state should be on lookout for “windshield bullies” that can make drivers a target for auto-glass fraud.
Russ Dubisky, the executive director of the South Carolina Insurance News service, says these people (usually glass shop employees) can be seen going door-to-door or in parking lots, car washes and gas stations using aggressive marketing tactics in an attempt to convince motorists that they need to replace their windshields if they detect any chip or crack that could easily be repaired.
Glass shops are reimbursed a much higher amount for window replacements than they are for simple repairs. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, questionable auto-glass claims have spiked to a level that places South Carolina among the top five states in the nation.
Vehicle owners in South Carolina are prime targets for these windshield replacement scams because the state is known as a “zero deductible state.” Dubisky explains that South Carolina is one of only four states where insurance companies are required by law to allow customers to purchase a windshield replacement using insurance with no deductible, as long as they have comprehensive insurance coverage on their vehicle.
Dubisky says “windshield bullies” typically use catch phrases like “free windshield paid for by your insurance company.” Dubisky adds that rarely if ever will they mention windshield repair because they want you to replace your windshield, and they want you to believe that it will beneficial for you to replace it immediately.
Dubisky says these scammers often deal with less than scrupulous glass companies. He said if you have any chip or crack to your windshield, just tell the scammer you will call your insurance company for an inspection. Dubisky says there have been reports out of Florida where these high pressure salesmen are using nails to put chips in car windshields.
Dubisky says it is important to head off these glass harveters because, if left unchecked, their actions could end up jacking up insurance rates for consumers.
AUDIO: Dubisky says rash of auto-glass fraud cost insurers and consumers (1:14)