NICB Wins ACE Award for Best Small Communications Team

Congratulations to our Communications department as they were announced as a winner in the 2015 ACE Awards. The goal of the ACE Award is to honor the individuals, agencies and teams in PR and marketing who, day in and day out, are THE BEST. They begin and end each day at the top. The award was given to the group under the Small Communications Team category for their work in the following videos:

Hurricane Katrina: 10 Years Later

Corvette Purchased with Phony Bank Check in Craigslist Scam

46 Years Later Omaha Man is Reunited with Stolen Motorcycle

The following quote is the write-up from the judges at Ragan’s Communications.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau promotes its activities with compelling, entertaining and (most important) share-worthy videos. Only three people work on these videos: One staff member handles research, writing, and interview scheduling; another handles graphics; and a third is the on-screen face and voice of the organization. Together, this bare-bones team has produced videos you can’t stop watching. These videos tell the story of how the Crime Bureau has helped insured individuals recovering from Hurricane Katrina avoid car sales scams on CraigsList, and much more. One video tells the tale of returning a stolen motorcycle to its owner years after its theft. Viewers are entertained while they learn about Crime Bureau innovations, such as the Vehicle Identification Number Check used to help identify owners of cars swept up in Katrina.

Honorable mentions in this category

  • Chartway Federal Credit Union
  • WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease
  • Chapman University Office of Communications and Media Relations

AceAwards2015

Hurricane Katrina 10 Years Later: Birth of VINCheck – Part 5

In today’s final installment, see how NICB’s “Katrina Flood Vehicle Database” grew from an internal inventory and claims processing tool into VINCheck—the nation’s first free vehicle history and consumer protection service based on insurance claims.

Ten years after Katrina, VINCheck remains the most visited page on the NICB.org website.

Hurricane Katrina 10 Years Later: Coast to Coast Impact – Part 4

Today’s video segment shows how in the weeks and months after Katrina, NICB agents were finding vehicles damaged by floodwaters for sale from New York to California. These potential coffins on wheels were just waiting to be purchased by unsuspecting consumers.

To view the other parts of this series click here.

NICB and Hurricane Katrina: A 10-Year Retrospective Part Two

CarpenterKatrinaQuoteEach day this week the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) will release segments of a five-part documentary video that provides first-hand recollections of NICB employees and law enforcement personnel as they reflect on their roles in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Recognizing the unprecedented number of vehicles that were flooded or otherwise damaged from Katrina, NICB dispatched teams to the region and established the Gulf Coast Task Force (GCTF) which operated from two locations: Baton Rouge, La. and Mobile, Ala. Over the next several months, NICB personnel from all over the United States were rotated through the GCTF where they worked side-by-side with state and local law enforcement officers in identifying and cataloging the thousands of damaged vehicles that littered every part of New Orleans and Mobile—and most points in between—in Nature’s random display of destruction.

Today’s video segment illustrates how NICB’s established operations centers and got down to work.

Video release schedule:

Monday: Part 1: Multistate Devastation

Tuesday, Part 2: NICB’s Initial Response

Wednesday, Part 3: Vehicle Identification

Thursday, Part 4: Coast to Coast Impact

Friday, Part 5: Birth of VINCheck

Hurricane Katrina: A 10-Year Retrospective

Katrina10YearsBeginning today—and every day this week—the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) will release segments of a five-part documentary video that provides first-hand recollections of NICB employees and law enforcement personnel as they reflect on their roles in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Video release schedule:

Monday, Part 1: Multistate Devastation

Tuesday, Part 2: NICB’s Initial Response

Wednesday, Part 3: Vehicle Identification

Thursday, Part 4: Coast to Coast Impact

Friday, Part 5: Birth of VINCheck

Widespread destruction, NICB responds

While Katrina impacted parts of Alabama, Florida and Mississippi, its most widespread destruction occurred in Louisiana in and around New Orleans. After making landfall on August 29, 2005, Katrina’s heavy rainfall and significant storm surge caused breaches in a number of the levees protecting New Orleans from Lake Pontchartrain. As a result of those levee failures, roughly 80 percent of New Orleans was underwater by August 31.

In terms of property damage, Hurricane Katrina was the most costly on record with insured losses estimated at over $41 billion*. Part of that figure came from insurance claims on more than 300,000 vehicles damaged or destroyed by Katrina—vehicles that presented an attractive opportunity for fraud.

KatrinaFloodedVehiclesRecognizing the unprecedented number of vehicles that were flooded or otherwise damaged from Katrina, NICB dispatched teams to the region and established the Gulf Coast Task Force (GCTF) which operated from two locations: Baton Rouge, La. and Mobile, Ala. Over the next several months, NICB personnel from all over the United States were rotated through the GCTF where they worked side-by-side with state and local law enforcement officers in identifying and cataloging the thousands of damaged vehicles that littered every part of New Orleans and Mobile—and most points in between—in Nature’s random display of destruction.

As the vehicle inventory process took shape, GCTF personnel had some time to pursue allegations of insurance fraud which NICB was receiving on its hotline almost from the moment Katrina made landfall. Even as search and recovery efforts were underway, some saw opportunity to exploit tragedy for personal and illicit gain. NICB investigated everything from bogus claims for flooded vehicles that were nowhere near the storm area to yachts being scuttled by their owners, but blamed on Katrina so they could collect an insurance payoff.

The birth of VINCheck

VINCheckTo prevent unsafe flood vehicles from entering the commerce stream disguised as legitimate used vehicles, NICB created the “Katrina Flood Vehicle Database.” This database was populated with the vehicle identification numbers (VINs) of every Katrina-damaged vehicle that was insured by one of NICB’s 1,100 member insurance companies. Although initially developed to more efficiently share data with law enforcement, state fraud bureaus, motor vehicle departments and insurance companies, NICB realized that allowing consumers to have free access to this data was the best way to help them protect themselves from making an expense—and potentially life-threatening—flood vehicle purchase.

Within two months of Katrina’s landfall, The Katrina Flood Vehicle Database was opened to the public. As this free consumer protection grew in popularity and usage, its name evolved into VINCheck. With the new name and with the cooperation of participating insurance companies, VINCheck not only identified flood vehicles, but any vehicle that had been declared a total loss, salvage, or was an unrecovered stolen vehicle.

Since its creation, VINCheck has been the most visited page on the NICB.org website. From January 1, 2009, through December 31, 2014, more than 5 million VINs have been searched through VINCheck. From those queries, 48,442 theft records and 507,110 salvage records were identified meaning that VINCheck may have saved thousands of innocent consumers from experiencing significant financial losses—or worse.

The hurricanes of 2005, of which Katrina was the Queen of Destruction, challenged all levels of government as well as state and local law enforcement, the insurance industry and disaster relief agencies. The lessons learned from Katrina helped government and non-government officials deal with another mega storm when 2012’s Sandy devastated the Eastern Seaboard and other inland areas.

While natural disasters are an unfortunate reality of life we can understand them. To some extent, we can prepare for them and mitigate their damage. But when ill-intentioned people use these events to commit fraud against a population already reeling from a disaster, they will eventually attract law enforcement’s attention with NICB agents at their side.

As we did after Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Ike, and Sandy, NICB’s nationwide distribution of investigative and analytical resources are poised to deter, detect and defeat acts insurance fraud that would cause further harm to the legitimate victims of catastrophes.

*The Insurance Fact Book, 2015, p. 148, Insurance Information Institute, New York.

NICB and Hurricane Katrina: 10 Years Later

Beginning next Monday—and every day that week—the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) will release segments of a five-part documentary video that provides first-hand recollections of NICB employees and law enforcement personnel as they reflect on their roles in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Video release schedule:

Monday, Part 1: Multistate Devastation

Tuesday, Part 2: NICB’s Initial Response

Wednesday, Part 3: Vehicle Identification

Thursday, Part 4: Coast to Coast Impact

Friday, Part 5: Birth of VINCheck

Besides being located here the videos will also be available via our YouTube account or at our website at www.nicb.org.

VINCheck–Seven Years of Free Consumer Protection

Even as much of New Orleans remained underwater from Hurricane Katrina’s rampage, NICB went about preventing another calamity–the expected flood of water-damaged vehicles being sold to unsuspecting consumers around the nation. With estimates of Katrina-damaged vehicles approaching half a million units, NICB realized the public safety challenge that many of these vehicles would present if not quickly identified and tracked.

So it was against that backdrop that our member companies were asked to participate in a voluntary vehicle identification number (VIN) tracking project. Most of our member companies saw the benefit not only for public safety but for positive public relations that such a venture would inspire and they agreed to assist.

Thus the “Katrina Flood Vehicle Database” was launched on NICB’s website on October 17, 2005. It was an industry first and gave consumers unprecedented, free access to insurance company claims data on vehicles and boats that were damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

This resource was an immediate hit with consumers and numerous local, state and federal agencies and private sector entities across the nation linked their websites to NICB’s to allow their constituents easy access to this resource.

On November 7, 2007, NICB expanded this service to include information on unrecovered stolen vehicles and renamed it–VINCheck. In June, 2008, VINCheck was expanded yet again to provide data on vehicles that have been previously declared as salvage by participating NICB member insurance companies.

As it nears its seventh birthday, VINCheck remains the most visited page on NICB’s website receiving in the last 12 months over 1.6 million page visits. It is also frequently referenced in all kinds of media from local talk shows to national network radio and television stations and cable outlets.

A consumer recently posted her thoughts on our “Tell Us Your VINCheck Success Story” link on the NICB website. Here is an excerpt:

“It [2011 Mazda3i] had few miles and the seller kept telling me that the title was clean. He seemed suspicious though, and the price was a little too low. I decided to look up the vin number and through this site [VINCheck] I found out that it had had a salvaged title. The seller had been lying to me each time I asked. I didn’t purchase from him because he had lied repeatedly and didn’t know what else he could be lying about. I’m so glad that this site is around. It gives you the basic information for free! But the basic information was just enough to help me with this particular car. It then advises you to have the vehicle inspected if you are still thinking of purchasing it, and advises to have a full report done so you can see all the details. This site was easy to use, extremely useful, and free. I use this site on all vin numbers of vehicles that I am seriously contemplating. It has made my car search less intimidating. Thank you!”

This consumer is exactly the kind of person we had in mind back in 2005 when the Katrina Flood Vehicle Database came to life. We’re happy to say that today’s VINCheck continues to provide that same free access to millions of vehicle records–all made possible by participating NICB member companies and NICB’s 100-year commitment to fighting insurance crimes and vehicle theft.

For the price–nothing!–VINCheck remains the best vehicle history service in existence.