Apr 18, 2018
Auto Body Shop Fraud Costs Ontario Drivers Millions
Getting into a fender bender can ruin your day. After all, an accident can cost you money out of pocket and it could impact your insurance rates.
Getting taken advantage of by auto body shops and tow truck drivers can make the situation even worse. It’s also a leading reason auto insurance rates are so high in Ontario.
In light of the recent auto repair fraud findings by Aviva Canada, we’ve put together some important information for drivers about how to identify potential auto repair scams.
Here we’ll look at the cost of car repair scams, the results of the Aviva auto body scam investigation, and how you can protect yourself from being a victim of car accident insurance scams.
Auto Repair Fraud Costs Us All
Auto repair fraud costs us all. It’s estimated to cost insurance companies and drivers $537 million per year in Ontario. It costs more than $2 billion a year in Canada in total.
Fraud Investigation : Aviva Uncovered Auto Body Shop Scams In Ontario
To investigate the increasing number and cost of car insurance claims in Ontario, Aviva Canada undertook a fraud investigation. Their findings were eye opening.
Not only is insurance fraud prevalent in auto repair shops, the year long investigation found :
- Fraud was identified in 9 out of 10 cases – only 1 shop acted honestly.
- Tow truck drivers invoiced for services they didn’t provide.
- Some shops caused additional damage to vehicles purposefully.
- Repair shops regularly overcharged for repairs.
- Shops charged for new parts but installed used parts.
- Insurance companies were invoiced for repairs that never happened.
In total, 57% of the total repair costs billed to Aviva as part of the investigation were fraudulent. Aviva estimated the total damage for the 10 vehicles at $30,000. The repair shops billed them about $61,000.
Learn more about the investigation here.
Car Repair Scams To Watch For
When you bring your vehicle into an auto repair shop, it’s important to pay close attention. Whether you bring in your vehicle because it was in a collision or you suspect an issue, there are a number of car repair scams to watch for :
- It’s worse than we thought : After the initial inspection, the mechanic identifies the issue to be worse than anticipated. You know what this means – more money to repair.
- Since we already have your vehicle in the shop… : This is a common upsell scam. A shop will recommend a series of additional repairs that are “urgent.”
- Unauthorized repairs while you were away: You drop off the car for repairs only to find out additional repairs have been completed without your authorization. They want you to pay for repairs before you get the car back. Don’t pay for anything you didn’t authorize. Car repair shops need written permission to do repairs. If they refuse, call the police.
- Oil change upgrades : The mechanic recommends “upgrades” to a premium or synthetic oil, finds issues with gaskets or other parts.
- The Flush : The shop claims you need to flush your cooling system, transmission, or other fluids from the engine. They prey on unsuspecting drivers who don’t know any better. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Fake leaks : The mechanic finds a “leak” in one of the engine hoses. They even may go to the length of spraying the substance on the engine to show you the “issue.”
- Premature replacement : Mechanics recommend you need to replace your brakes, brake pads, shocks, spark plugs, or other components. They say it’s not safe to drive your car without the work being completed.
Know Your Rights When Getting Your Vehicle Repaired
It’s important to know your rights when getting insurance claim work done on your vehicle, or when simply taking in your car for maintenance.
The Motor Vehicle Repair Act and Consumer Protection Act outline your rights. It’s important to educate yourself about your rights, maintain good car repair records, and do some research about the vehicle issues you are having before taking your car into the shop.
This will help you have a better understanding of potential repairs and help reduce the odds of being a victim of auto repair fraud in Ontario.
What To Do If You Suspect An Auto Repair Scam
Suspect insurance fraud? Here are your options to report a mechanic shop :
- Contact your insurance company : Your insurance company or broker can investigate the matter and provide you with information about next steps.
- Report fraud to the Insurance Bureau of Canada : You can file an anonymous complaint with IBC Ontario.
Suspect a scam, or an auto repair rip-off scheme?
- File a complaint : You can file a consumer complaint with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.
Tips To Choose A Reputable Auto Body Shop
Finding a trustworthy mechanic can be a challenge. If you’ve never been in an accident, you may not have a preferred repair shop. Here are some tips to find a reputable auto body shop:
- Use insurance company recommended shops : Your insurance provider will happily provide you with a list of recommended car repair shops in your area. Consider taking your vehicle there for insurance claim work. It will simplify the claims process, billing, and the shop will work with your insurance directly.
- Get a referral from a trusted person : Ask trusted friends and family members about who they use for vehicle repairs. Do they have a go-to repair shop?
- Check out shop certifications : When considering repair shops, make note of their certifications, licenses, warranty programs, and other trust seals.
- Read reviews : Reading online reviews can tell you a lot about previous customer experiences and what you could experience yourself if you take your vehicle into the shop.
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