Homeowners in Florida and Georgia are not the only ones who could fall victim to post-disaster fraud following Hurricane Ian. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), the insurance industry leading association dedicated to predicting, preventing, and prosecuting insurance crime, is warning consumers across the United States to stay vigilant when purchasing a used vehicle in the coming weeks and months.
In the aftermath of disasters like Hurricane Ian, dishonest automobile dealers and other individuals buy flooded vehicles, dry and clean them, and sell them to unsuspecting buyers as used vehicles. Many of these vehicles appear on the market in the weeks and months following a natural disaster, and not just in the states where the disaster occurred. NICB encourages purchasers across the U.S. to do their homework, including using NICB’s VINCheck®, a free tool that shows if a vehicle has had an insurance theft claim and has not been recovered, or has ever been reported as a salvage vehicle by participating NICB member insurance companies.
“NICB assists with the identification of vehicles and works with insurance carriers to identify those to be declared a total loss,” said NICB President and CEO David Glawe. “Buyers must be particularly careful in these coming months, as thousands of flood damaged vehicles may appear for sale in their areas.”
If you are shopping for a used vehicle, NICB recommends checking a few items that could indicate whether the vehicle is a flood recovery vehicle or not. Some steps to follow are:
- Buy from a reputable car dealer.
- Check the vehicle’s history, noting that it can take time for data related to such storms to catch up to these history reports.
- Check the car thoroughly looking for water stains, mildew, sand and silt under the carpets, headliner, and behind the dashboard.
- Get a pre-purchase inspection completed by a reputable service technician to determine if any telltale signs of water damage are present.
- Look under the hood for signs of oxidation. Pull back the rubber “boots” around electrical and mechanical connections for these indicators. Ferrous (containing iron) materials will show signs of rust; copper will show a green patina; aluminum and alloys will have a white powder and pitting.
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, call the NICB at 1-800-TEL-NICB. For additional information, visit NICB’s website, www.NICB.org.