The Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance advises consumers to be aware of individuals who might try to lure them into the “accident clinic” trap following an automobile accident.
Accident clinics target automobile accident victims to make money by creating the false impression that the clinics either work for a government agency or are part of an insurance company. The clinics aim to quickly sign up accident victims as patients before they can talk to their own doctor or lawyer.
Some clinics use telemarketers to set appointments with accident victims and often call accident victims shortly after an accident. Other clinics might also contact accident victims either by mail or text messages.
“Consumers are vulnerable after an auto accident,” says TDCI Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “To prevent being trapped by an accident clinic scammer, consumers should proceed with caution and conduct due diligence.”
To help raise awareness of accident clinics scams, TDCI shares the following consumer tips.
After an accident
Within days or even hours after an automobile accident, consumers might receive phone calls, texts or letters from telemarketers offering to refer them to a clinic. These are often health care providers who have never treated or seen those consumers before.
Telemarketers might pretend to be from a victim assistance group, an insurance company, the government, or a law enforcement agency. Consider answering calls or texts only from people you know.
If you are contacted after an accident and the caller claims to be a representative from your insurance company or the other party’s insurance company, never give out any identifying information until you call your insurance company and confirm they are calling you. Be careful: Scammers sometimes “spoof” phone numbers and names so they look real on Caller ID.
Do not respond to letters from health care providers you do not know who contact you for the first time immediately after an accident. If you’re injured, go to your own doctor for treatment.
Potential red flags of accident clinic scams
When you go to a clinic and are seen by a health care professional, they tell you that you are definitely injured and you will need many treatments.
The health care professional tells you your pain is worse than you think it is and that insurance will only cover treatments if you say your pain is “very bad.”
Despite how badly the health care professional says your condition is, the clinic won’t treat you unless you sign up with them for treatments. The clinic often requires you to hire or sign up with one of its lawyers, too.
The clinic insists that you won’t have to pay for the treatment. The clinic might tell you that the insurance of the at-fault driver will cover the costs.
Earlier this year, the Tennessee General Assembly passed a law prohibiting some health care providers (though not chiropractors) and their associates from soliciting victims of an accident or disaster to market their services within 30 days from the accident.
The law is enforced by the Tennessee Department of Health. Potential victims of a violation of this law can submit a complaint to the Department of Health at www.tn.gov/health/health-professionals/hcf-main/filing-a-complaint.html.
If you have concerns regarding communications from an insurance company or have questions about claims practices, contact the TDCI Consumer Insurance Services Division at (615) 741-2218 or visit tn.gov/insurance.
Source: Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance