For most people, having their car battered and bruised by a hail storm would be devastating, but believe it or not, there are those who see a natural disaster as a prime scam opportunity.
Insurance providers like Budget Direct are reporting people fronting assessment centres, with cars sporting manufactured hail.
But there’s bad news on the horizon for the would-be scammers, “there’s nothing in the world quite like a hail stone, and the damage it causes,” says Jeremy Kesby Fraud and Investigation Manager for Budget Direct.
“The days of people thinking the golf ball in the sock trick will fool an insurance assessor are well and truly over.”
“It’s not a victimless crime, the actions of scammers like this, impacts on the price everyone has to pay for insurance, and takes up valuable time in assessment centres.”
“We work hard to detect fraud, so we can keep premiums as cheap as possible for our honest customers,” says Jeremy.
Detecting manufactured hail, as opposed to the real deal, is a special skill, and Budget Direct employs forensic experts to assess damage in suspect cases.
Just like the investigators in CSI, the experts use specialised equipment to find the tell-tale signs of fraud. The Christmas Day storms in Melbourne produced some of the highest ever rates of manufactured hail seen in the country.
The recent severe hail storm which hit the western suburbs of Brisbane has resulted in more cases of attempted hail fraud being detected by Budget Direct.
In one case, a car had been damaged by hail, but then the owners took to the panels of the car causing approximately 38% manufactured damage.
Jeremy warns,“You could pay a hefty price for trying to fake hail damage. If detected, and there’s a greater chance than ever you will be, Budget Direct is unlikely to reinsure you, and you’ll be left with a dented car that needs repairing.”