TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) —Marvin Shebroe and Colleen Hernandez both say they filed a claim with Farmers Insurance for a cracked windshield.
Both say months later, their phones rang and they thought they were talking to the company who replaced their windshield. They say they were told there was a recall that could be fixed for free. Later, they discovered bills for thousands of dollars sent to their insurance company, contributing to skyrocketing premiums.
Another similarity: In both cases, the bills were generated by a Sarasota company, The Florida AutoGlass Guys, LLC. No one from the company will return my calls and there’s no public record of the bills they’ve sent insurance companies.
Hillsborough County court records show the Florida AutoGlass Guys, LLC has filed 77 windshield lawsuits against insurance companies since July 2023.
Thirty-eight of those have been filed this year, against numerous insurance companies. Mark Friedlander of the Insurance Information Institute says lawsuits like these are driving up our premiums.
“The problem is, we all pay for this,” Friedlander said.
Data tracked by the institute shows 50,000 auto glass lawsuits in Florida last year, compared to 591 in 2011.
“There should not be a lawsuit over such a simple repair and simple claim as glass replacement,” Friedlander said. “It’s because of these fraudulent actors who are intentionally taking advantage of consumers and charging exorbitant rates that should not be paid.”
Friedlander tells me some insurance companies just pay the outrageous claims because it’s cheaper than fighting in court. As for The Florida AutoGlass guys, our viewers’ stories about supposed “recalls” followed by large claim, Friedlander says he’s unaware of a recent windshield recall.
“It just doesn’t smell right,” he said. “The fact that you did two stories that are so similar, there’s a trend here.”
Our repeated messages to the autoglass company and their attorney have been unreturned. If you have a windshield claim, advocates recommend you go with your insurance company’s preferred vendor and question any calls about recalls on your repaired windshield. If you’ve had a recent windshield claim, it’s recommended you call your company to verify what the bill was.
If someone calls about a recall, check with your insurance company directly.