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NICB launches online database listing of hurricane-damaged units

November 22, 2010

The National Insurance Crime Bureau on Oct. 19 launched a special online database for the public that lists more than 70,000 vehicles damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Executives of the NICB said more vehicles are being added daily. 

"We don’t know how many are ‘total losses,’ as that information is unique to the individual insurance companies which insure the vehicles," said Frank Scafidi of the NICB.

 

The NICB, based in Palos Hills, is a non-profit organization dedicated to fighting insurance fraud and vehicle theft for the benefit of its member companies and the public through information analysis, criminal investigation support, training and public awareness. 

Any vehicles identified so far as damaged can be reviewed via their VINs in the public database, by following the instructions on the NICB’s Web site,www.nicb.org/

 

Immediately after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast on Aug. 28, the NICB sent catastrophe teams to establish two operation centers in Baton Rouge, La., and Mobile, Ala., to begin the process of identifying and cataloging vehicles and watercraft damaged by the hurricanes. 

The NICB teams are working in conjunction with the Louisiana State Police Insurance Fraud Unit, in addition to Mississippi, Texas and Alabama state police to create the database, where VIN numbers and boat hull identification numbers of damaged vehicles are available for free. 

"The database contains vehicles from Mississippi, Alabama, Texas and Louisiana, and we are getting total cooperation from the law enforcement communities throughout the affected areas. The Louisiana State Police have been absolutely top-notch in that regard," Scafidi said.

 

He said NICB teams are using the latest industry techniques to collect all the VIN numbers of damaged vehicles. 

"Collecting these numbers has been as cutting-edge as using barcode scanners to send VINs directly to laptops in the field to as basic as our agents and law enforcement partners crawling over silt-covered hulks and breaking windows to obtain access to the numbers."

 

All VINs gathered by the NICB from hurricane-damaged vehicles have been made available to law enforcement, state fraud bureaus, insurance companies and state departments of motor vehicles to help prevent fraud, which could occur through title washing.

 

Executives of the NICB have described the task of documenting the hurricane-damaged vehicles as "historic in nature."

 

"The NICB’s ability to bring this tremendous public service to the nation’s consumers is due entirely to the support of the property and casualty insurance industry; Gulf Coast law enforcement, particularly the Louisiana State Police; and private salvage companies," said Robert Bryant, NICB president and chief executive.

 

"It is my belief that the cooperative spirit displayed by the public and private groups in our united response to prevent future Katrina and Rita-related fraud may very well set the standard against which future post-catastrophe anti-fraud efforts are measured," Bryant said

 

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