Auto Insurance in Houston

You and Your Auto Insurance: Driving in Houston

Houston is Texas’ most populated city and the nation’s fourth largest. Home to the Houston Oilers and more Fortune 500 companies than any other U.S. city except NYC, it is also, unfortunately, a home base for organized, rampant insurance fraud.

It is estimated that insurance fraud costs every auto-insured household in the nation an average of $1,000 annually on the cost of your auto insurance policy.

Texas auto insurance companies have reported that in the past several years there has been an increase in auto insurance fraud by disreputable vehicle repair shops. This affects the policy rates of every Houstonian who drives. One Houston auto repair shop in particular was indicted for filing tens of insurance claims for auto accidents that never took place.

Houston has also been identified as a hot spot for a phenomenon called “staged accidents.” A staged accident is one that has been faked. Organized crime rings take part, involving a number of professionals from chiropractors, doctors and other medical practitioners, to attorneys and other legal representatives. Insurance claims adjusters have even been arrested for being involved in these fraudulent insurance claims.

How to avoid being a victim of a staged accident

In highly populated cities like Houston, there are several types of staged accidents perpetrated on unsuspecting victims. One of the most common is something that law enforcement officials and insurance investigators have named the “Swoop and Squat.” This fraud involves creating an accident on purpose. This is then followed by the passengers in the scam car filing fraudulent injury claims.

An example of the “Swoop and Squat” is when a crooked driver suddenly swerves in front of your car and slams on their brakes causing you to rear-end them. The crooked driver and those riding with him/her will then pretend to have serious injuries as a result of the phony accident.

If you suspect you have been a victim of this crime, it is very important to take down the name of every individual in the car and their driver’s license number as well. Report this information to your insurance company, because often, even more people will report being hurt than were passengers in the crook’s automobile.

The phony victims, faking injuries, go to clinics that may be in on the scam too.

All of these insurance fraud activities cost you money as a consumer in the form of having to pay higher auto insurance premiums.

Also rampant is the number of phony auto insurance brokers posing as legitimate companies. Call the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) to confirm that any auto insurance company or broker is legitimate and licensed to do business in Texas.

TDI investigates any type of phony insurance cases. They recommend contacting them if you detect any suspicious activity on the part of a Houston service provider, be they a collision repair shop, a chiropractor, an attorney or any other business that you deal with as a result of a car accident in Houston.

You can go online to report suspicious insurance activity by going to TDI’s website and filing a “Suspected Insurance Fraud Report.”

TDI has also implemented an insurance fraud hotline where you can report suspicious activity by calling 888-327-8818.