The Show on KJZZ

Q&AZ: Why Do Insurance Companies Pay So Much For Windshield Repair In Arizona?

Published: Monday, May 11, 2020 - 5:05am
Updated: Monday, May 11, 2020 - 7:08am

Q&AZ is supported in part by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company

In February, KJZZ reported that Arizona ranked first in the nation for the number of auto glass claims in 2019. Through our Q&AZ reporting project, a listener asked why their insurance company pays so much for windshield and auto glass repair.

Insurance fraud committed by unscrupulous auto-glass repair shops is a problem — so much so that the Arizona Department of Insurance routinely arrests and prosecutes repair shop owners.

Some fraudsters inflate the cost of repairs, directly bill the insurance company and then collect the extra money for themselves. Others replace windshields that might not need to be replaced — or don’t do any repairs at all. For instance, a repair technician may offer to fix a windshield chip, but bill the vehicle owner's insurance company for a full replacement. This can lead to increased premiums for the vehicle owner, and raise prices for repair services.

That’s not to say that every repair shop is committing fraud, but Howard Handler from the National Insurance Crimes Bureau says it drives up the cost for honest companies.

In Arizona, insurance fraud of this nature is a Class 6 felony. It's also so prevalent here because of the sheer volume of windshield damage: In 2019, Arizonans filed more than 2.6 million auto glass claims — more than Texas, California and New York. Nationwide, 10% of auto glass claims came from Arizona.

For consumers who want to avoid fraudsters, the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud recommends seeking out reputable auto glass services through their insurance companies and ignoring repair services who solicit them.

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