NYLON – The New York Alliance Against Insurance Fraud (NAAIF) is reaching out to alert drivers to the dangers of modified, removed, or counterfeit airbags that are believed to be in circulation across the country.
According to a press release from NAAIF, tens of thousands of unsafe airbags are believed to be in circulation across the U.S., and several injuries and deaths have been attributed to knockoff airbags.
Apparently, dishonest body shops sometimes pull good airbags from crashed cars to make it seem like the bag deployed during the accident, the insert a cheap knockoff bag after the insurer finishes the estimate for replacing the original airbag.
It is believed that some mechanics stuff old rags or cardboard into the empty airbag compartment and bill the insurer for the full price of the bag, up to $2,000 or more.
Car owners are encouraged to protect themselves by taking the following precautions:
Make sure the dashboard airbag light comes on for a few seconds when the car is started, especially if the car was repaired recently. This signals that the airbag system is working properly. If the light stays on, starts flashing or doesn’t flash on at all, the airbag system probably isn’t working.
After the car has been serviced, check the body shop’s invoice to make sure the airbag came from a legitimate car manufacturer, dealer or recycler.
Before replacing an airbag, check if the body shop has a history of consumer complaints. Check with the Better Business Bureau. Deal only with a registered shop. Make sure there’s a green and white sign that says “Registered State of New York Motor Vehicle Repair Shop” outside the shop. The shop also should have a valid New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) registration certificate inside.
When shopping for a used vehicle, get its history report from commercial services. If the report shows the vehicle was in a major crash or flood, have a certified mechanic or airbag technician check it out before buying.
Anyone with a complaint can contact the DMV Vehicle Safety Consumer Services Section at (518) 474-8943, or download a complaint form.
NYAAIF is an alliance of 104 insurance companies in New York. NYAAIF was created in 1999 to educate consumers about the cost of insurance fraud and help consumers avoid becoming victims.