Thursday, September 03, 2009
Have you noticed that more cars are driving around with unfixed dings? You know, crumpled metal that looks bad but the car still drives. Getting a car's cosmetic external damage fixed is definitely a deferrable expense. It can cost, what, $400 in many cases? That's money that anyone unemployed is not interested in spending. Better use the cash for food (or rent).
Dunno about repairs, but other trends are unmistakable:
Motorists unable to afford payments on pricey cars and gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles in this recession are turning to a time-tested financing solution: matches.
Insurance cheats are torching their vehicles in remote locations. They're pushing them off cliffs.
They're sinking them in lakes or ditching them in the hopes of getting their policies to pay
off, fraud investigators say.
Nationwide, suspicious vehicle fires or arson increased 27 percent in the first quarter of 2009, compared with a year earlier, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, an industry-supported agency that investigates all types of insurance fraud.
So-called owner give-ups -- cars intentionally destroyed or abandoned -- jumped 24 percent.
Barbecuing a Beamer is one of the more dramatic types of suspected insurance fraud that's increasing in this economic downturn, the deepest in more than half a century.
But it's not the only one. Suspicious personal injury slip-and-fall claims increased 60 percent in the first quarter, staged car accident cases were up 34 percent and commercial property fire/arson cases jumped 76 percent.
Some consumers figure they've paid premiums year after year, experts said, and their insurers might not closely check every single claim.
In fact, investigators say they tend to be particularly busy during tough economic times, when an increasing number of policyholders are caught in financial crunches.
"When the economy goes south, crime goes up," said Frank Scafidi, a crime bureau spokesman in Sacramento, Calif.
Investigators say the number of suspected give-ups, which are often hard to prove, is minuscule compared with the more than 1 million vehicles reported stolen each year.
I've been in "drive around with door dings" mode for years. What do I do now that the crap has really hit the fan?
dings? there are people living in vans and suvs in the parking lot of the park i used to take my dog.
I worked in a transmission shop in my early twenties, and learned how to rebuild certain Ford, GM and Chrysler automatic transmissions. My boss was sure he had picked the right specialty. "People will drive dented cars for years," he'd say, "but when their tranny goes, they've got to get it fixed."