This has happened to everyone that drives a car. Something happens to the car and you have to take it to a repair shop. The attendant looks it over and gives you a quote for the work. For most of us, we have no idea what to expect and the body-shop has all the power. Often you get a bill back to send to your insurance company and you don’t really know what the cost of parts are or why service is so expensive.
While everyone sort of knows auto body-shops rip you off, The Toronto Star is reporting that workers at auto-body shops deliberately damaged cars, replaced good parts with older parts, invoiced repairs that never happened and billed insurance companies for new parts and instead installed older parts. The reporting comes from an investigation by a Canadian insurer that is calling on the government to take action against a problem that is getting increasingly worse.
Aviva Canada recently uncovered the fact that approximately half of the total expenses submitted for repairs to crashed vehicles in Ontario were bogus. The fraud amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
According to the Toronto Star, no one has ever really looked into the fraud with “any kind of accuracy”. To discover the fraud, Aviva tried to simulate a typical fender-bender and then had experts detail the damage and estimate the costs. Aviva then installed hidden cameras in the car and partnered them with investigators who posed as accident victims. Out of 10 cases of cars brought to body shops one one repair company acter honestly.
The video footage collected from the hidden cameras shows clear evidence of fraudulent invoicing and it’s sad that honest consumers are the ones left to fit the bill.
Even if you submit your claims directly to insurance companies it still ends up costing consumers more. According to the Star, the insurance industry estimated that between 5 and 15 per cent of premiums drivers pay for car insurance go towards covering fraudulent claims.
While industry analysts haven’t figured out a way to stop the problem, they are looking to the government for answers and support. At the end of the day, every driver is subsequently affected by the decisions of these fraudulent auto-body shops.
Source: The Toronto Star