Consumer fraud alert - vehicles damaged in Superstorm Sandy

GEICO reminds consumers to do their homework before they buy

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 17, 2013GEICO advises consumers who are buying a used car or truck to first determine whether the vehicle was tagged as being flood damaged following Superstorm Sandy.

Throughout the cleanup operations, GEICO and other insurers worked with state and local agencies and the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) to tag severely damaged vehicles by entering VIN numbers into national and state databases.

“The whole idea is to protect consumers from costly hidden problems and to prevent fraud,” said Rick Hoagland, vice president of GEICO claims.

Steven Rutzebeck, director of GEICO’s special investigation unit said, “Damage caused by flooding can sometimes be hard to identify, and there are unscrupulous sellers who will take steps to conceal the damage cosmetically. Buyers should ensure the vehicle is in proper condition prior to making a purchase.”

GEICO recommends these steps for buyers before closing a sale:

  • Check VIN numbers on the NICB site – Go to and check to see if the VIN number for the vehicle you want to buy is in the database. The site is free to access as a service to the public.
  • Check with your state’s DMV – Go to your state’s department of motor vehicles and request a title history report on the vehicle.
  • Run a history report of a used vehicle – Search online services that offer detailed vehicle history reports.
  • Get a pre-purchase inspection – Have a professional examine the vehicle and ensure that any damage has been accurately documented.
  • Look carefully at the title – Beware if the title is in an insurance company’s name or shows a history of flood damage. Proceed with caution if the car has been titled several times over a short period or has been registered in a flood-affected area.
  • Examine the vehicle – Look for signs of flood damage such as visible grit, rust or mold under the dashboard, in the engine compartment, in the trunk and on the vehicle’s undercarriage. Be on the lookout for mismatched or stained upholstery and take note if the vehicle has a musty odor or if carpeting has been shampooed. Turn on the car and test warning lights, gauges, wipers, turn signals, windows, heat and air conditioning.

GEICO (Government Employees Insurance Company) is a member of the Berkshire Hathaway family of companies and is the second-largest private passenger auto insurance company in the United States. GEICO, which was founded in 1936, provides millions of auto insurance quotes to U.S. drivers annually. The company is pleased to serve more than 14 million private passenger customers and insures more than 23 million vehicles (auto & cycle).

Using GEICO's online service center, policyholders can purchase policies, make policy changes, report claims and print insurance ID cards. Policyholders can also connect to GEICO through the GEICO App, reach a representative over the phone or visit a GEICO local agent.

GEICO also provides insurance quotes on motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), boats, travel trailers and motorhomes (RVs). Coverage for life, homes and apartments is written by non-affiliated insurance companies and is secured through the GEICO Insurance Agency. Commercial auto insurance and personal umbrella protection are also available.

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