NICB Warns Against Unsolicited Service Provider Insurance Scams
Individuals with home and auto insurance could be at risk of becoming victims of unsolicited service provider insurance scams, according to a new warning issued by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). The NICB said in a new press release that more service providers are making unexpected calls and visits with offers of assistance to policyholders who have filed claims. While sometimes their assistance is legitimate, the bureau warns that it could be a scam.
Most Legitimate Providers Don’t Offer Unsolicited Assistance
In most scenarios that involve an auto accident or home damage/vandalism issue, the homeowner will contact their insurance company to file a claim then contact a mechanic or repair service to have their issues resolved.
However, according to the NICB, more home repair service providers, or in the case of auto accidents, medical providers and attorneys are calling, sending letters and even showing up on the doorsteps of policyholders who have filed claims. This, according to the bureau, is a red flag that you’re dealing with a repair scam.
It doesn’t matter whether the person is an inspector, glass repair technician, roofer or structural engineer. If you have been approached at your home or on the street without initiating a call, the NICB advises you to consult with your insurance company before allowing them to perform any service.
The scam is often that the provider will complete the work to get their money. Then after you call your auto insurance or home insurance company, you learn that the provider isn’t “covered” under your policy, leaving you with the job of shelling money for repairs.
Tips for Handling Home and Auto Repairs
The NICB recommends that you not only exercise caution when approached by a service provider, but also when making calls on your own. If you need repairs done to your home, the bureau suggests you consider the following tips:
- Get in contact with your insurance company first
- Request multiple estimates from contractors
- Get everything in writing (costs, work to be done, work schedules, guarantees, payment schedules and other expectations)
- Demand references and check them
- Ask the contractor for his driver’s license and write the number down (along with the vehicle license plate number)
- Don’t sign any contracts with blanks that could be filled in later
- Don’t pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate if the work isn’t complete and up to current code
- Review all documents sent to your insurance carrier
- Don’t let a contractor pressure you into hiring them
- Don’t let a contractor interpret insurance policy language
- Don’t let the contractor discourage you from contacting your insurance company
As for auto accidents, the bureau advises you work with your insurance company throughout the entire process. If you need legal or medical care, look for reputable assistance and avoid help from unsolicited providers.
If you feel you may be the victim of insurance fraud, the NICB asks you to call its toll-free number, 1-800-TEL-NICB. Also, you can text the keyword “fraud” to TIP411 (847411) or visit www.nicb.org.