Aerial Imagery from Harvey and Irma Available to Public

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) announced today that it will make available to the public high-resolution aerial imagery of areas affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. By going to this link and typing in an address, a before-and-after comparison will be available if the property is in an affected area that has been surveyed from the air. Harvey damage is available and imagery from Irma will be posted when available.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), whose member companies write over 80 percent of all property/casualty insurance and over 90 percent of all auto insurance in the country, has been developing a system that leverages its ability to rapidly respond to catastrophes.  The system utilizes a full array of digital imagery, both on the ground and in the air, which will provide high-resolution views of properties on an address-by-address level to assess the damage.

NICB and its partners now have the capability to gather before-and-after street level and aerial views of impacted areas, and provide that information in a platform that insurers can incorporate into their existing systems to quickly view and assess damage to their policyholders’ homes, businesses and even vehicles. This same imagery will be provided at no cost to emergency personnel to assist them in their response efforts. The information will also be invaluable in fighting fraud in the aftermath of a disaster.

NICB is working with partners, such as Vexcel Imaging, the premier aerial imaging company worldwide, and Esri, the global provider of GIS mapping and spatial analytics software. NICB has created the Geospatial Intelligence Center to oversee these efforts. Eventually, the plan would be to do imaging on the ground and in the air in some 100 markets on a regular basis, and being able to respond immediately on a 24/7 basis when a catastrophe strikes to provide comparisons that will assist in damage assessment.

“This technology takes the industry response to a catastrophe to a whole new level,” said NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle. “The response to our initiative has been overwhelmingly positive based on feedback I have received during my meetings with emergency personnel, law enforcement and our insurance company members in Texas. We believe it is also important to share this with those who have been impacted by the Hurricanes.”

NICB’s long history of a strong working relationship with emergency and law enforcement personnel has made this possible. The Texas Department of Public Safety and other local and federal officials have enthusiastically supported this effort, and provided NICB with access and support during the Harvey response.

For an in-depth look at this program, click here to watch our video.

Beware Harvey Flood-Damaged Vehicles

Flooded cars near the Addicks Reservoir in Houston, TX. (David J. Phillip, File/Associated Press)

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) is warning the nation’s consumers that vehicles flooded by Hurricane Harvey may soon be appearing for sale around the nation.

After a disaster, NICB works with its member companies, law enforcement and auto auction companies to identify the vehicles that have had an insurance claim filed and to process them for sale. All of the cars, deemed to be a total loss, will be retitled with the Department of Motor Vehicles and the new title will indicate the fact that the vehicle has been flood damaged. Most of the vehicles are sold to parts’ companies who will dismantle them and re-sell usable parts that were not damaged by the flooding.

The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is also entered into the NICB’s VINCheck® and the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) database.

NICB’s VINCheck allows car buyers to see whether a vehicle has ever been declared as “salvage” or a total loss by an NICB member that participates in the program. Insurers representing about 88 percent of the personal auto insurance market provide their salvage data to the program. It also alerts users if a vehicle has been stolen and is still unrecovered. VINCheck is a free public service available at: www.nicb.org/vincheck.

Keeping damaged cars out of the hands of unsuspecting buyers is a major focus of the industry. Unfortunately, some of the flooded vehicles may be purchased at bargain prices, cleaned up, and then taken out of state where the VIN is switched and the car is retitled with no indication it has been damaged.

NICB warns that buyers be particularly careful in the coming weeks and months as thousands of Harvey-damaged vehicles may reappear for sale in their areas. Vehicles that were not insured may be cleaned up and put up for sale by the owner or an unscrupulous dealer with no disclosure of the flood damage.

Buyers should have a vehicle checked by a reputable mechanic or repair facility before handing over any cash.

Consumer Resources

Photos: Harvey Hits Texas Hard

The following images have been sent in by NICB staff members and law enforcement personnel affected by Harvey.

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Images of Hurricane Harvey’s Damage

The following images were sent in by NICB personnel affected by the storms in Texas.

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Hurricane Harvey Victims: Avoid Post-Disaster Scams

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) is working with law enforcement agencies, the state departments of insurance and insurance companies to warn victims about post-disaster rebuilding scams.

After a disaster, contractors will often go door-to-door in neighborhoods that have sustained damage to offer clean up and/or construction and repair services. Most of these people are reputable, but many are not. The dishonest ones may execute schemes to defraud innocent victims. One common scheme is to pocket the payment and never show up for the job, or never complete a job that was started. Another scheme is to use inferior materials and perform shoddy work that is not up to code in order to pocket more profit. Continue reading

Fraud Files: Operation Slingshot

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office Auto Theft Unit with the assistance of the National Insurance Crime Bureau announced major arrests in a sophisticated theft ring.

The arrests were part of two-year investigation known as “Operation Slingshot.”

The ring was responsible for stealing vehicles from dozens of dealerships and then reselling them on social media and Craigslist.

For more episodes of Fraud Files click here.

NICB in the News: Purse-Snatching, Vehicle Thefts and Used Car Buying

(lohud.com)Man swiped purse from Bronxville church-goer

A 34-year-old Bronx man faces charges after police say he distracted a Bronxville church-goer in order to steal her purse.

Anton Nrecaj was arrested on Friday and charged with fourth-degree grand larceny, a felony, in connection with the July 11 incident at the Church of Saint Joseph, Bronxville police said.

Read the full story here.


(Journal-Advocate)Increase in car theft prompts “Lockdown Your Car” campaign

In observance of National Auto Theft Prevention Month, Coloradans Against Auto Theft (CAAT) is launching a statewide public awareness campaign, reminding drivers about the importance of not making themselves an easy target for car thieves. The “Lockdown Your Car” campaign informs the public about the domino effect that often occurs when a car is left unlocked.

Read more here.


(KPNX-TV)Make sure you do your homework before buying a used car

Used car salesman tactics have been the butt of jokes for years, and chances are you’ve probably heard some horror stories. But don’t let that stop you from buying a used car.

Consumer Reports has some great tips to help protect you from buying a dud. And some of these tips can also come in handy if you’re buying a new car.

View the video here.

 

NICB in the News: Staged Accidents, Severe Storms and Airbag Thefts

(The Bulletin) Norwich man sentenced for his role in car insurance fraud scheme

NEW HAVEN — A Norwich man was sentenced Friday in federal court to 100 days in prison followed by three years of supervised release for his role in an insurance fraud scheme.

Frandy Dugue, 40, known as Jimmy, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Alker Meyer in New Haven.

According to court documents and statements made in court, between April 2011 and April 2014, Dugue and others conspired to stage approximately 50 car crashes in Eastern Connecticut for the purpose of defrauding automobile insurance companies.

Read the full story here.


(USAgNet)Following Severe Weather, Beware of Scams

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine warned consumers to beware of scams following the severe weather that hit Ohio this past week. Continue reading