Suit Filed Against Burien Auto Glass Shop Busted For Fraud
The Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner announced that Allstate Insurance has filed a lawsuit against Auto Glass Express and Premier Auto Glass, located in Burien, alleging that in multiple cases they billed (and were paid for) OEM glass, while actually “purchasing and installing aftermarket windshields.”
Previously, the insurance commissioner’s office had filed criminal charges against owner Michael Alan Perkins, for related allegations involving Allstate, State Farm and MetLife (read our previous coverage of that story here).
Charges against Perkins, 43, were filed Thursday in King County Superior Court. Perkins is the owner of Autoglass Express Inc. and Premier Auto Glass, LLC., which are run out of Perkins’ Burien home. The glass shops are suspected of overbilling State Farm, Allstate and MetLife insurance companies.
An investigation by the state insurance commissioner’s office found 4,840 instances in which the company told insurers that higher-priced Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) glass had been installed, when workers were actually installing lower-cost aftermarket glass.
State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s anti-fraud Special Investigations Unit, which spent months combing through more than 10,000 records, found $1,520,234 in deceptive billing by Perkins’ companies between September 2005 and December 2009.
“We found instances in which companies paid full price for car windows that actually came from auto wrecking yards,” said Kreidler. “One company was billed more than $1,000 for a Toyota windshield that actually cost $92.”
State Farm was tipped off to the scheme by Lynx Services, a third-party administrator that handles glass claims. Lynx became suspicious after a random search of their database turned up an unusually high percentage of OEM glass being installed in cars worked on by Autoglass Express. State Farm investigators began contacting policyholders, inspecting the recently-installed glass, and comparing it to the bills. State Farm turned the case over to the insurance commissioner’s Special Investigations Unit, which obtained search warrants and seized more than 50 boxes of invoices and hard drives belonging to Perkins’ companies.
“Insurance fraud is hardly the victimless crime that some people seem to think it is,” said Kreidler. “When someone scams an insurer, it drives up costs for policyholders, the vast majority of whom play by the rules.”
Other examples of overbilling documented by the state insurance commissioner’s office in this case:
- 1998 Saturn station wagon: Insurer was billed $317 for a back window that actually cost $150 at a wrecking yard.
- 2003 Lexus: Insurer was billed $1,082.06 for a windshield that actually cost $144.83.
- 1991 Subaru Legacy: Insurer was billed $199.95 for a front door window that cost $65 from a wrecking yard.
- 1999 Lexus RX300: Insurer was billed $1,167.34 for a windshield that actually cost $56.05.