A man from the heart of Arizona, Michael Swedo, was recently sentenced to five years in jail for a long list of Arizona windshield repair and replacement fraud counts that saw him stealing over $80,000 from various insurance groups. The sentence was given out only this year, marking a sobering opening for the new year for auto glass repair companies in the state as well as all over the country.
Auto glass repair fraud was noted to have gone down significantly last year compared to its figures in 2010, at least according to data released by the NICB or National Insurance Crime Bureau. In 2010, the fraud figures for the industry ballooned to an unbelievable figure over 26,000 in total, which fortunately went down in 2011. The Bureau’s data had been welcome news to people operating windshield repair and replacement business all over the country, along with insurers who stood to be in danger of paying out millions of dollars for fraudulent claims on repairs and replacements that never actually took place. However, around the end of the old year and with the beginning of the new, a handful of auto glass fraud cases have just been making the rounds of the news media—admittedly relatively small ones, with hardly any going over the hundred-thousand-dollar mark, but still a good reminder to auto glass businesses and insurers that they should be careful with their business this year.
At least one auto glass repair brand, Safelite, has actually partnered with the NICB in an effort to bring down the occurrence of fraud in the country. Early in December of last year, NICB announced a strategic partnership with Safelite Solutions as well as Alliance Claims Solutions to fight insurance fraud, specifically fraud in the auto glass repairs business. It was perhaps only logical: Safelite Solutions is the TPA (third party administrator) for well over 170 fleet and insurance groups, covering the country with its reach. As a result, the NICB had already worked with the company before on fraud claims and cases, and reported Safelite Solutions to be a pleasant working partner. With the NICB so often requesting the assistance of the company in tracking down data on claims, a more formal relation permitting the Bureau to access the information more easily was perhaps long overdue.
Auto glass repair industry members are hoping that, with the rise of more and more partnerships such as this, the occurrence of windshield repair fraud and auto glass fraud shall be going down this year. Incidents like the one with Michael Swedo, where 16 insurance companies were stung by the man’s Arizona windshield repair fraud streak, are hoped to only become reminders now of past years’ troubles.