How to avoid being a victim of crash for cash

We’ve all sat patiently at a junction waiting to get out into a line of traffic.  Having sat there for a while we are always relieved when a fellow courteous driver flashes his lights or waves us out.  We give him a cheerful thank you and move into the line of traffic and on with our day.

But have you ever thought how the above circumstances can end up in what is increasingly becoming known as a crash for cash scam?  What if, instead of sitting patiently while you moved onto the main road, the person who apparently let you out then drove into your vehicle and blamed you for emerging from a side road and hitting them?

A very wise man once told me that, on the road, “courtesy causes confusion” and when that man is a Detective Chief Inspector in the City of London Police Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department, you tend to take notice.

Crash for cash scams have become increasingly common in the UK. The Insurance Fraud Bureau believe that such claims are costing the UK insurance industry £340 million a year.  And that means it probably costs policyholders more in terms of increased premiums and forking out for excesses.

So here are my top tips for avoiding being the victim of a crash for cash scammer.

Buy and install a dashcam

Short of having witnesses to the accident, having footage of an accident is the next best thing.  Being able to prove that the car in front had no functioning brake lights – another favourite crash for cash scam – is a big advantage in defending a claim for which you would otherwise be found at fault.

Make sure your dashcam is working at all times and also advise your Insurers that you have one.  They may reduce their premium because of your pro-active attitude to risk management.

Take photos of the incident

Only if it is safe to do so, take photos of the incident scene. Try and get some pictures of the Third Party vehicle as well.  If the vehicle has existing damage take a picture of that too.  You don’t want to be blamed for that too.

If suspicious, call the Police or the Insurance Fraud Bureau on 0800 422 0421

Check for independent witnesses

Having an independent witness or two and being able to provide their details to your Insurers will give you a big advantage.  Bear in mind that the scammers will usually have a few passengers, all of whom will develop sore necks over the next few days, and will be prepared to back up their drivers version of events.  Having your own independent witnesses plus dash cam footage is a big help

Be aware

Keep an eye open for erratic driving and stay away from that car if possible.

Remember that courtesy causes confusion.  Whilst it’s very tempting, and often fine to accept another drivers courtesy, it’s always safer to stick to the Highway Code rather than become an another victim of the scammers.

Content kindly provided by David Findlay, BA (Hons), PG Cert, A-Plan Insurance Account Executive