weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Nevada Highway Patrol warns drivers about insurance scam

The Nevada Highway Patrol warned Las Vegas Valley drivers Wednesday to be wary of potential scammers who show up at traffic crashes asking for personal information.

The warning grew out of a report troopers made Monday after a crash near U.S. 95 and Decatur Boulevard, NHP spokesman Loy Hixson said. When they got there, they saw a man who said he was taking a vehicle collision report for police. He was holding a driver’s paperwork, but he hadn’t been involved in the crash. A second man arrived and said he was doing the same.

The men did not work for law enforcement. They were driving vehicles with no insignia and had forms that looked official, Hixson said, but none of their information checked out.

Las Vegas police in March stopped responding to crashes in which no one is hurt, in an effort, the agency said, to focus on higher priority incidents. Metro did not respond to requests for comment on their crash response policy Wednesday.

Anyone who feels like they’re in danger — after a car crash or not — can still call 911.

But Hixson on Wednesday pushed NHP’s officers to respond to all crashes where they patrol. Troopers will be uniformed and driving a marked patrol vehicle, but drivers always can call to verify a trooper’s credentials.

The men who went to the U.S. 95 crash Monday said they worked for a company called Nevada Car Accident Reports, Hixson said. The phone number on their business cards did not work and appeared to be from a prepaid phone.

A company called Nevada Car Accident Reports is registered with the Nevada secretary of state. Company representatives could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

There was not enough evidence to make an arrest Monday, Hixson said, but it was enough to tell the public to look out.

Driver’s licenses, insurance cards and other vehicle documents can reveal personal information including addresses and phone numbers. That could lead to insurance fraud.

“The concern here is that these individuals are taking advantage of drivers at a time where their thinking may not be as clear and are vulnerable,” NHP’s alert said.

Wrecks also could be staged, NHP said, to make phony insurance claims.

The men who showed up at the Las Vegas crash Monday could be insurance adjusters, but Nevada Insurance Council President Michael Geeser doubts it.

“Most insurance representatives are branded by the car they’re driving or the shirt they’re wearing and some sort of ID badge, or all of the above,” Geeser said.

As far as insurance companies go, Geeser said he hasn’t heard about companies sending more adjusters to crash scenes than they did before Metro stopped responding to noninjury collisions.

Some law firms advertise they will send someone to noninjury crashes to help motorists, said Phil Pattee, Assistant Bar Council at the Nevada Bar Association. But they don’t just go out on their own.

“It’s OK for lawyers to respond to accidents as long as they are called and are not soliciting business,” he said.

Contact Maria Agreda at magreda@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0391. Contact reporter Cassandra Taloma at ctaloma@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0391.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.