The Mississippi Insurance Department (MID) and the Mississippi Collision Repair Association are partnering on an initiative designed to protect residents from buying cars damaged by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
Following the two storms, officials say thousands of flood-damaged vehicles have made their way from Texas, Louisiana and Florida into Mississippi to be eventually sold to buyers who are unaware they were damaged, according to a statement from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). Many of the cars have been sold to unscrupulous dealers or dismantlers who clean them up, retitle them and sell them for a quick profit.
According to the Mississippi Insurance Commissioner, Mike Chaney, the biggest threat is from cars that were not insured for flood damage.
“While those insured cars may show up in NICB’s VINCheck database, the ones that didn’t have insurance are likely to be sold by the original owner for a few hundred dollars and then cleaned up and retitled by an unscrupulous dealer who will resell it for a few thousand dollars with no indication that the vehicle suffered any flood damage,” said Chaney. “It’s truly a buyer beware situation.”
In an effort to stop these kinds of sales, MID and repair shops that are members of the state’s Collision Repair Association are working together to offer free inspections for potential buyers.
“If you’re thinking about buying a used car, let one of our members check the car to verify that it has not been in a flood,” said John Mosely of Clinton Body Shop and the Mississippi Collision Repair Association. “In addition to checking the hidden areas of the car for signs of damage, we can also run a scan of the car’s computer system to look for any codes that might indicate it had been exposed to water.”
NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle said the cooperative effort will help keep consumers from being scammed.
“Far too many vehicles that were flooded were not insured and if they go undetected, they can end up being a financial disaster for the buyer as well as a potential safety hazard,” Wehrle said.
NICB said anyone with information concerning insurance fraud or vehicle theft can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 800-TEL-NICB, texting keyword “fraud” to TIP411 or submitting a form on its website.
The NICB is the a not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to preventing, detecting and defeating insurance fraud and vehicle theft through data analytics, investigations, training, legislative advocacy and public awareness. The NICB is supported by more than 1,100 property and casualty insurance companies and self-insured organizations.
Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau
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