insurance

6 shadiest auto insurance fraud schemes

Counterfeit air bags
Counterfeit air bags © lumen-digital/Shutterstock.com

Each year, about 1.5 million air bags inflate during crashes, saving thousands of lives. But, during the repair process, at least a small percentage of those deployed air bags will be replaced with counterfeits -- which can be life-threatening.

"Crooked repair shops frequently replace the bags with cheap knockoffs, or in some cases just fill the area with junk and garbage," says Quiggle. "The insurer pays for phony work, and the driver ends up with a car that isn't safe."

If your car is being fixed after the air bags have been deployed, it's critical to work with a trusted, reputable mechanic, says Quiggle. He advises drivers to go with shops that have been approved by their insurance company, because those will have been heavily vetted.

If you're buying a used car, it's always a good idea to get a vehicle report, which will tell if the car has been damaged in a crash or has been salvaged. Then, pay close attention to the air bag light, which should appear briefly and then turn off. If the light never appears, if it flashes steadily or if it stays on, the car should be checked immediately.

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