Insurance fraud costs Australians around $700 million annually. A big slice of this shady pie is car insurance fraud. Although it's an essential part of driving, the car insurance process is fraught with uncertainty, as well as entities trying to take advantage of customers.
In the end, insurance is a gamble on your car and driving ability. Insurance agencies want to make money off you and not have to pay for damages. As an insurance policy holder, there are preventative measure you can take to ensure that you aren't falling into common traps.
Looking for a stress-free repairs process? Get in touch with Sheen Panel Service. We can tow your car, fix your vehicle, and work with your insurer, all the while maintaining an open line of communication between all parties.
1. "Preferred repairer"
This is a misleading tactic used by insurance agencies. Your policy might say that following an incident on the road, you can only get your car repaired by one of the insurer's preferred repairers. This clause is usually put in place to save the insurer money.
- Non-genuine parts and poor quality repairs can damage your car in the long run.
- Replacement vehicles are usually not provided by low quality preferred repairers.
Look for a car insurance policy that lets you choose your repairer. By choosing Sheen Panel Service, you can rest assured that your vehicle will receive the best care.
- We use genuine parts and paints to produce the highest quality work.
- We offer accident replacement vehicles to get you back on the road in the meantime.
2. Dark patterns
Dark patterns are seemingly legitimate but totally misleading marketing practices. Car insurance companies sometimes utilise these practices to take their customers for all that they're worth.
- Roach motel is the practice of drawing customers in and making it very difficult for them to leave.
- Hidden costs, like processing fees, can easily be tacked on to your final bill when you get to the checkout.
- Misdirection keeps customers focused on the bells and whistles, hiding costs out of sight.
If you are buying car insurance online, treat each step like a brand new exercise. From when you arrive at the website, until you click 'confirm' at checkout, do your due diligence. Buying car insurance should be transparent. If you feel like you are being mislead at any stage, pull the pin and start over.
3. Long waiting times
Time is money. In the past, car insurance agencies have been guilty of prolonging the claims process for their own financial gain. Unfortunately for you, as well as annoyance, long wait times can lead to:
- Loss of income if yourself or other members of your family cannot get to and from work.
- Loss of mobility if your car is continually in the shop, or entirely written off.
If you're in insurance claim limbo, you have to follow up. If your insurance agency is being difficult and uncooperative, keep pestering them until you get a response. If they take more than 2 weeks to respond, contact them again and lodge a dispute.
4. Roadside assistance
This is more of a money pit than a scam. Many insurance agencies, small and large, are pushing policy holders to pay extra for roadside assistance. It may seem like a handy inclusion
- Lack of services means that roadside assistance can't help with dire mechanical problems on the road.
- Poor coverage and response times mean that you could be stranded on the side of the highway for hours.
Weigh up the positives and negatives. If your boutique insurer wants you to buy roadside assistance, they might not have the resources to help you if you drive long distances or interstate. If you're in trouble on the road, your best bet is calling for a tow truck, and having your car towed to your local Sheen Panel Service.
5. Limited offers
Like dark patterns, limited offers are misleading propositions found in car insurance advertising. Insurance companies will advertise a certain rate or price for a limited time, making it seem like you'll retain that benefit for your entire policy.
- Fine print will usually hide the "offer expires on 30 June" disclaimer, or something to that effect.
- Price hikes can turn your extremely attractive rate into something you struggle to pay each month.
Always read the fine print, and have your lawyer go over your policy, if necessary. When it comes to cheap insurance, limited offers, and attractive rates, remember the one big rule of thumb: if it's too good to be true, it probably is.
6. Unclear terms
The best way to take someone for a ride is to muddy the waters a bit first. By having unclear terms, confusing lingo, and other misleading policy statements, insurance agencies can get away with their own interpretation of the terms they have set.
- Watch out for purposefully confusing misnomers like "variable liability limit" and "all-risk coverage".
- Written definitions of policy elements are your best friend if you are ever unsure.
You are under no obligation to sign anything without having proper understanding. It is illegal to wilfully mislead potential customers. If you'd like to dispute the interpretation of the terminology contained within your policy, you can contact the Australian Financial Ombudsman Service.
When it comes to executing your car insurance policy, document everything, and go with someone you trust. Sheen Panel Service is in the business of working with policy holders and insurance companies at every stage of the repairs process. Sheen will also:
- Arrange towing and replacement vehicles after an incident
- Repair your vehicle with speed and efficiency
- Liaise with your insurer to process your claim as quickly as possible
If you need car repairs, get in touch with Sheen Panel Service. We can help you avoid these common methods of car insurance fraud, helping you return to the road sooner.