Covid-19 Car Insurance Scams to Avoid

Scammers may use Covid-19 to sell you bogus car insurance packages, stage accidents, overcharge for repairs, or exaggerate their claims.
Written by Jacoba Bood
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Most COVID-19 car insurance scams are similar to run-of-the-mill scams, such as auto repair scams and accident staging, but they use the novel coronavirus as an excuse to further these schemes.
Generally speaking, coronavirus restrictions have led to fewer drivers on the road — and fewer witnesses to flag fraudulent happenings. Con artists can also use people’s fear of infection to bypass normal information exchanges and exaggerate their claims.
The
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has put together a list of some of the most common COVID-19
car insurance
scams to watch out for.
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Common COVID-19 car insurance scams

Scammers thrive in periods of uncertainty, and some fraudsters have taken advantage of COVID-19 safety measures, such as social distancing and isolation, to add to their usual bag of tricks.
Here are some of the more common COVID-19 car insurance schemes to watch out for.

Auto repair scams

While employee health and safety should always be the utmost priority, coronavirus does provide opportunities for repair shops to abuse this standard and exploit their customers.
For instance, since COVID emerged, there have been reports of repair shops charging excessive fees for their services. Some shops will refuse to work on a car before charging for exorbitant cleaning, disinfecting, or storage fees first. These services could then be drawn out or delayed, using the coronavirus as an excuse.
The easiest way to avoid these scams is to stick with the shops that your insurance provider already recommends. Some companies will even guarantee services from trusted providers.
Be especially wary of repair shops that ask you to pay for extra coronavirus-related services out-of-pocket. If your repairs are part of a claim, always contact your insurance provider first before you agree to any extra fees.
Key Takeaway While repair shops are entitled to enact health and safety regulations to protect their employees, be wary of any shop using this as an excuse to over-charge you.

Accident staging

With fewer cars on the road, scammers have more opportunities to cause staged accidents — and less risk of getting caught doing it.
Common examples of staged accidents include sideswiping and slamming on the brakes to get rear-ended.
A scammer might also use social distancing as an excuse to bypass police intervention, making it easier to pull off a fraudulent claim.
The best defense against staged accidents is to drive defensively and get a police report after an accident. Accident staging is a complex scheme that usually involves specialized organized crime rings that will strategically target riskier-looking drivers.
The more cautiously you drive, the less likely you are to be targeted. If you end up in an accident that feels suspicious, an official police report will help support your story.
Key Takeaway Driving defensively will give you more time to react in case you notice anything suspicious on the road.

"Jump-in" injury claims

Similarly, con artists might take advantage of social distancing measures to add extra names of people who were not at the accident scene to their claims. People are understandably wary of getting too close to each other during a global pandemic.
Still, scammers could use this as an excuse to quickly exchange information without taking the usual precautions.
The most straightforward way to prevent this from happening is to get a police report — even if the damage seems minor. If you don’t get an official police report or have reliable witnesses, scammers can easily claim injuries for people who weren’t involved in the accident.
Be sure to make a personal note of how many people were present and try to get the names and contact information of each person. The more photos you get of the accident scene and the people involved, the better.

Fake agents

Fake agents are taking advantage of the coronavirus to sell COVID-19 car insurance packages that don’t exist.
Unfortunately, most people don’t discover that they have purchased a fraudulent policy until they need to make a claim. Suffice it to say that having to cover the costs of an accident out of pocket after already losing money on a fake scam is not fun.
As a precaution, always verify that an insurer is licensed in your state before giving them money or information. Fake agents will often pose as representatives from reputable companies or operate under a false company name.
If anybody tries to sell you COVID-19 car insurance, assume that they are a scammer and cut off the interaction as soon as possible.

Senior scams

People 60 and older are more likely to be the victims of COVID-19 car insurance fraud. Since older adults are more likely to be isolated due to coronavirus safety measures, scammers might use robocalls to sell fake insurance products.
They may also use COVID-19 as an excuse to pose as health authorities and demand sensitive personal information that could be used in a bogus claim.
Older adults living in senior communities need to be especially wary of automated callers or anybody posing as a Medicare professional during this time. No matter how old you are, you should always ask a medical professional to verify their credentials. Likewise, try to avoid giving out information over the phone whenever possible.
Key Takeaway Always ask medical professionals to substantiate their credentials before giving them any personal information.

How to avoid Covid-19 car insurance scams

Here are some pointers to keep in mind to help you avoid coronavirus-related car insurance scams.

Get a police report

An official police report will help invalidate scammer’s stories—so get one even if the damage from an accident seems minor.
You are already legally required to contact the police if anybody is injured or the damage is over $1,000. Regardless, it is always a good idea to contact the police after an accident, especially if the circumstances surrounding the accident feel suspicious. Be sure to take plenty of photos and detailed notes as well.

Ignore suspicious callers or solicitors

COVID-19 car insurance simply doesn’t exist—so don’t buy it from anybody.
Never accept offers that seem too good to be true without researching the caller number and company first.
Be especially wary of anybody who asks you to provide personal information or credit card numbers over the phone or on the spot. Or better, if you don’t recognize a number on your phone—just don’t answer it.

Watch for suspicious emails

Insurance scammers may use email phishing schemes to lure you in.
Avoid responding to or clicking on any links unless you are confident that they are legitimate. Con artists will often use bogus email addresses that look legitimate but don’t quite match the company they pretend to come from. Links can be particularly dangerous, as are any requests to respond or provide information.
Key Takeaway The more precautions that you can take to avoid Covid-19 scams the less likely you are to be targeted.
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How to actually find cheap car insurance

If you want a safe and reliable way to shop for your car insurance without having to worry about falling victim to Covid scams, use the free insurance shopping and broker app
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Jerry will automatically compare rates for top providers so that you don’t have to deal with any bogus offers. Even better, Jerry will provide you with a comprehensive cross-analysis of the best policies across providers, not to mention handling all the phone calls, paperwork, and renewals for your top pick so you don’t have to.
Scam offers won’t be a problem when you know you are getting the insurance coverage you want at the best rates. On average, Jerry users save over $800 a year on car insurance.
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If you think that you are being scammed, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Be sure to let your insurance company know as well, ideally when you make a claim.
The easiest way to detect suspicious emails is to scrutinize the email address. Scammers will often alter a single letter to make it look legitimate, so check all the details. You can also hover the cursor over to see where it leads. Just be careful not to accidentally click on the link when you do.
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