Michael Alan Perkins, an auto glass business owner in Burien, Washington, recently pleaded guilty to several counts of theft in King County. He has apparently overbilled several insurers in almost 5000 instances with his glass service shops, Premier Auto Glass LLC. And Autoglass Express Inc. The overbilling discoveries were staggering, and certainly shocked the state insurance commissioner, Mike Kreidler. While the court has yet to decide how much Perkins shall be made to pay in restitution for the crimes, Kreidler himself recommended that Perkins should be made to pay over $1.6 million, considering that the estimated worth of the overbillings was over $1.5 million already.
Most of the overbillings took place between 2005 and 2009, and were usually instances where the insurance company was billed for expensive OEM glass even though cheap recycled or used glass was actually installed. OEM glass is Original Equipment Manufacturer glass, so it always costs more than reused glass. The investigators found startling accounts showing that the insurer often just used glass coming straight from auto junk yards and shops even though they were billing insurance companies for premium glass at premium prices.
One particular case showed an insurance company being sent a bill for just over $1000 dollars for the windshield replacement on a 2003 Lexus, when the actual windshield installed in the car cost only around $150. Another Lexus car’s windshield replacement produced a bill for the insurance company that amounted to $1167.34. The real cost of the windshield the company installed? $56.05. Other instances include a Toyota car’s windshield being replaced with a $92-worth piece of auto glass that somehow showed up on the insurance company’s accounts as being worth $1000, as well as a case with a station wagon’s rear window being installed for $150 and billed at a little over $300.
The insurance companies—which include MetLife and State Farm—are indignant, of course. This might also lead to some problems for car owners in the future if insurance companies everywhere take fright and institute new and stricter regulations on car insurance. Most insurance companies do try to protect themselves already by recommending a specific auto glass specialist to their clients, but take note that you are not obliged to go to that store if you do not want to: it is merely a recommendation. Still, it never hurts to be more certain than otherwise that the shop to which you are taking your auto is one that your insurance company approves of and has inspected thoroughly. Car owners are also advised to make sure, from now on, that the equipment used for their windshield replacement is that which they requested. If you asked for OEM glass, make sure that what the company installs OEM.
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