Beware of internet scams when googling your insurance company

Beware of internet scams when googling your insurance company always have a close look at the link in case you’re about to call a scam line. Make sure it’s your insurance company and ask them to send you a tow truck company they trust.

  • Scammers are targeting people to defraud them after a car accident
  • Companies may mislead you into thinking they’re acting on your insurer’s behalf when they’re not authorised to do so
  • Only speak directly with your insurer to make a claim – not someone alleging to represent them – as they may charge you or your insurer significant and unnecessary costs

If you’re in a car accident, chances are you’ll be in shock. But try to stay calm so you can think straight and assess the damage. Once everyone’s OK, it’s time to get your ducks in a row. Contact your insurer directly, and don’t speak to anyone at the scene claiming to be representing your insurer when they’re not authorised to do so. Claim farming is on the rise, and it could end up costing you a lot of money. The players who may be involved include claim farmers, under-the-tree or intersection towing companies, and credit hire providers.

What is claim farming?

Claim farming is where unauthorised companies try to take advantage of you when it comes to car claims if you’ve been in a not-at-fault car accident or your car has been damaged. They might mention your insurance company, tricking you into thinking they are the insurer or an authorised representative of your insurer. Or your details may have been passed on to the unauthorised company by another party – for example, a towing company or repairer.

These companies may offer to manage the whole claim for you. They may offer services like hire cars, towing, repairs, and storage – on the basis it can all be claimed back on your insurance. These services are then charged at significantly inflated prices. The company may have even bought internet advertising for car insurance claims, displaying fake contact details that link you to the fraudulent company instead of the legitimate insurer.

How do I help protect myself from fraud?

There are things you can do to make sure your car is repaired following an accident – without leaving yourself exposed.

Call your insurer straight away

Firstly, if you’re in an accident and your car isn’t driveable, call your insurance company from the scene or when it’s safe to do so, and they’ll guide you through your options. Record all details of the accident, including the name, address and phone number of others involved, as well as details of their car. Take photos too.

  • Don’t call any company that suggests it acts as an agent for your insurer. Only deal directly with your insurer.
  • Your insurer’s contact details will usually be on your policy – it’s a good idea to save the number in your phone.
  • Always use the insurer’s number if you have it saved or go directly to the insurer’s website.  
  • If you need to search the internet for your insurer’s number, make sure you only use the direct number on their legitimate website. Check the URL of the website carefully.
  • You can also claim your insurer’s website if they offer this service. But, if you need immediate assistance, for example, your vehicle needs to be towed, call your insurer.

Don’t let anyone take your car unless you’re sure they’re authorised to do so

Could you make sure anyone who wants to take your car away holds relevant state authorisation with the consent of your insurer?

  • If your car needs to be towed after an accident, call your insurer – they’ll be able to organise a tow or recommend next steps.
  • Don’t sign any towing agreements unless you’re certain the provider is legitimate.  
  • Unfortunately, not all states have towing regulations, so it’s best you contact your insurer for guidance on how to move your vehicle.
  • Don’t sign any contracts for a hire car unless it’s after talking with your insurer.9
  • If you feel at all uncertain, uncomfortable, or pressured into signing a contract and accepting a tow, call the insurer.

What should I do if a company turns up at my house?

Some towing providers visit the homes of people who’ve been in an accident, to tow their car away. Be wary of these companies pretending to be authorised by the insurer. Once they have the car, it could be held until you or the insurer pays for its release. This can delay the time it takes to have your claim processed or your car repaired. If a tow company turns up at your home and wants to take your car away for repair, call your insurer to validate that the company is genuine and has the relevant authority to do so.

Only authorise repairs after speaking with your insurance company

Many insurers have a panel of authorised repairers, who are chosen for their reliability. Speak with your insurer before authorising any repairs.

Be wary of unsolicited phone calls

If you get a call from anyone offering any help or services related to your car accident, be cautious. If the caller says they’re acting on behalf of your insurance company, take their name, the reason for their call, and a reference number. Don’t reveal any personal information. You should also ask the caller to identify themselves – get them to tell you your policy number and claim number. If you’re unsure, hang up, then call your insurance company on the number listed on your policy to confirm it was a legitimate call. If so, they’ll be able to reconnect with you. Ask your insurer for guidance on next steps.

What should I do if I’ve been misled?

Although claim farming cases are rare, fraudulent companies are around. If you believe something’s not quite right after an accident, call your insurer immediately. They’ll be able to advise you on the next course of action.

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