Deliberately staging or causing a road traffic collision, solely for the purpose of financial gain, costs around £400m a year. Honest motorists end up bearing this cost in terms of higher premiums and it puts innocent motorists at risk. These “crash for cash” scams include the following:
- Contrived incidents: where an accident is staged in order to pursue a claim against an insurer
- Induced claims: Where somebody deliberately brakes in front of you in order that you collide with their rear, enabling them to pursue a claim against you (usually at low speed, although that does not stop a personal injury claim being pursued), or indicates to turn inducing you to pull out, and then carries on into you.
- Bogus passengers: An incident occurs where there are no passengers in the vehicle, but claims from multiple passengers are submitted.
- Exaggerated claims: Where a minor incident is enhanced by further damaging the vehicle involved in order to ‘help’ the validity of an injury or vehicle hire claim.
Tell-tale signs that you’ve been in a Crash for Cash scam:
- The other driver is far too calm for someone that has just been involved in a car accident
- They have already written down their insurance details before the accident happened
- Any injuries appear to be completely at odds with the force of the impact
A-Plan’s Tips to prevent becoming a victim of such an incident:
Remain vigilant, especially on the approach to a hazard or in a line of traffic: This may seem obvious, but the fraudsters don’t actually want to get hurt, they merely want to be able to claim for being hurt. As such, most incidents happen at low speed, when concentration levels often drop. So if approaching a roundabout, traffic lights, or waiting in a queue of traffic, don’t expect the car in front to act rationally, and keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the one in front. That way a sudden application of their brakes won’t lead to a collision.
- Wait for the manoeuvre to take place: Take care not to rely on indicators too much. It is not uncommon for fraudsters to tempt you into pulling out in front of them by indicating and slowing down, only to continue once you have pulled out. This is often known as “flash for cash”. Proving they were indicating will be very difficult (and provide little defence anyway), leaving you responsible for the claim.
- Two cars ahead: there are frequently two cars involved in inducing an accident – the car directly in front and the car in front of that car as well. Both may drive erratically. Allow plenty of space between you and the two cars in front.
- Check the brake lights: A common trait in many vehicles involved in ‘crash for cash’ is failure of the vehicle’s brake lights. If you notice the car in front brakes and their lights don’t work, remain cautious, allow extra space between you and the vehicle, and perhaps distance your car from theirs.
- Warning signs: Is the car in front moving particularly slowly or is it slowing down and speeding up for no apparent reason?
- Driver Behaviour: If the driver in front is focusing on the back of the vehicle, that could be a sign they are looking for an opportunity to induce an accident. Scammers choose their victims carefully – keeping an eye out for drivers who look like they would be fully insured but less likely to cause a fuss. Mothers with children and the elderly are favoured targets.
- Passenger Behaviour: Are the passengers in the vehicle in front turning around and looking at you for no reason? They may be looking for a chance to induce an accident.
- Collision Damage: Does the car in front look like it has been in other accidents – especially showing damage to its rear?
What to do if you are in an accident and are suspicious it may be fraudulent:
- Stay calm. Don’t argue with the driver of the other vehicle and/or their passengers and don’t admit liability to anyone.
- Call the Police immediately while you are still at the scene of the accident, inform them you suspect the accident is a cash for crash scam and ask them to attend the scene
- Capture as much information as possible at the scene:
- Make, model and registration number of the vehicles involved
- Time, date, location and weather conditions at the time of the accident
- Name and address, date of birth and gender of the driver, in addition to the owner where different
- The number of passengers in the other vehicle and, if possible, where they were sitting in the vehicle immediately after the accident
- Details of any injuries to anyone involved in the accident, even if minor
- Contact telephone numbers
- Names and addresses of any independent witnesses
- Insurer details and policy numbers of all the drivers involved
- It is also worth taking details of police officers if they are involved and an incident reference number
- Make a note of how the other vehicle left the scene of the accident (e.g. driven or towed away). If towed or transported away, make a note of the vehicle and registration number of the vehicle that took the car away, including whether it displayed any business name
- Take pictures: If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a collision, take pictures of the damage to the third party vehicle, and to verify the number of people in the vehicle. Ideally pictures should be taken with a disposable camera, to avoid any doubt surrounding digital image changes.
After the incident, please contact you’re A-Plan branch as quickly as possible. Our friendly and understanding advisers will be able to advise you.
References: Insurance Fraud Bureau, www.bbc.co.uk