A Burien, Wash. business owner pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree theft on July 1 after defrauding insurance companies of more than $1.5 million over a four-year period.
Michael Alan Perkins owned Autoglass Express Inc. and Premier Auto Glass, LLC, both of which were run out of the 44-year-old’s home just outside of Seattle, Wash. From September of 2005 through December of 2009, Perkins was billing insurers for original equipment manufacturer (OEM) glass, when in fact lower-cost aftermarket glass was being installed.
State Farm, one of the affected companies, was tipped off about the scheme by Lynx Services, a third-party administrator handling glass claims. The company saw a red flag in the unusually high number of OEM windshields being installed by Autoglass Express. Investigators from State Farm then began contacting policyholders and comparing the installed glass to the customers’ bills, turning investigation over to the insurance commissioner’s special investigations unit (SIU) after discovering Perkins’ fraudulent behavior.
Perkins overbilled insurers such as State Farm, Allstate, and MetLife 4,840 times, as discovered through investigation by the state insurance commissioner’s office. In one example, Perkins billed an insurer for $1,000 for a Toyota windshield that actually cost $92. In another instance, an insurer was billed $1082.06 for a windshield for a 2003 Lexus when the actual cost of the windshield was $144.83.
Perkins was sentenced to 9 months in jail, with 30 days of the sentence converted into 240 hours of community service. State investigators are recommending that Perkins pay more than $1.6 million in restitution to all affected insurers. The court will decide upon an amount at an upcoming hearing.