How to avoid being a victim of car insurance fraud

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Related: ‘Crash for cash’ car insurance fraud up 51% in 2013

As many motorists here in the UK are well aware, ‘crash for cash’ scammers could strike anywhere and at any time. There’s no particular pattern to their crime, and often it can be very sporadic in its nature, and unfortunately there’s never any forewarning of just when and where the next staged ‘crash’ will play out.

Despite the best (and on-going) efforts of the police, regional fraud squads, motor insurance policy providers and various motoring organisations, the crash for cash scandal rumbles on. Still, the good news is, a problem shared is a problem halved, so the more you familiarise yourself with the tactics of the underhanded and criminally-intent people who seek to have you innocently drive into them in your car, unawares that you’re an unwitting player in their despicable fraudulent masterplan, the better equipped you are of potentially avoiding such situations from the outset.

One of the primary actions you can take as a driver to minimise the likelihood of being targeted by gangs of crash for cash perpetuators is something as relatively straightforward and do-able as maintaining a safe braking distance from the vehicle in front of you.

The closer you are to their bumper the easier it would be for one of these criminals to slam on the brakes and hold you accountable for driving into them when it came to subsequent insurance/personal injury claims. Aside from this, experts urge motorists to be constantly vigilant for any of the following signs which they say are early warnings that crash for cash scammers are operating on roads in your area.

Look out for;

Passengers who show too much interest in what’s going on in their immediate vicinity

We’re not referring to those people who are simply enjoying the views on offer as they overtake you, but rather those passengers who are repeatedly staring out of rear windows, perceivably casing joints as it were for suitable car/insurance crime victims who might not be overly aware of their gaze/intentions.

In the event they might well be advising the driver to brake suddenly when you’re close by/following behind them in traffic.

A full vehicle

Another significant sign of foul play when it comes to crash for cash scenarios according to police forces in Britain is the observing of a high number of occupants/passengers found in vehicles, which might not otherwise pique your interest, or indeed make you think.

However the more occupants seated within a vehicle which is struck by another = a greater number of personal injury claims being brought against your insurance company if you’re the unfortunate victim of this cynical strategy.

Should you be involved in any road traffic accident (ones which raise your suspicions or not) then it’s imperative that you make a note of vital statistics present at the scene, such as the vehicle registration, names, genders and ages of all the people involved/occupants, along with contact phone numbers and an account of where they were sitting in the vehicle for future reference. More pertinently to determine if accounts are exaggerated (or not told as they really were) by third parties.

Faulty brake lights

Removing brake light bulbs is a tactic frequently deployed by crash for cash scammers, used to ensnare innocent motorists into making contact with their vehicle by accident. As experts suggest, take a photo of the third party’s rear lights as circumstantial proof to use at a later date (and to contest any personal injury claims which might be forthcoming) as bulbs tend to leave what’s described as a scorch mark in the light unit if they’re working. If there’s no sign of this then it’s highly unlikely that they were working in the lead up to the ‘collision’.

Flashing drivers

Another habit facilitated by crash for cash perpetuators is to flash other drivers out of junctions and into their oncoming path (which sounds an innocent enough instance, until you learn that they then proceed to drive into your vehicle and refute any allegations made by yourself that they flashed you out). And remember, as far as the law of the land is concerned any car that enters a main road from a side road is pretty much automatically to blame should a coming together of vehicles ensue. If in doubt, stay put and wait until a suitable opportunity to pull out/join the road.

Staged multiple vehicle collisions

This is best illustrated by your vehicle being shunted into the one directly in front of you, by the rear impact instigated by a car following directly behind you. If the rear vehicle is without motor insurance, the vehicle in front (which you were forcibly pushed into) is entitled to pursue you/your car insurance policy provider for damages incurred. So be mindful of tailgaters and keep a safe braking distance from vehicles in front of you at all times.

Erratic driving behaviour

Typically manifesting itself for all to see in the form of sudden, unexplained braking, swerving to change lanes on a carriageway and vehicles carrying out emergency stops for no obvious reason. These are all tell-tale indications that crash for cash scammers are touting for unscrupulous business.

Unfortunately drivers can’t always avoid such situations listed above and will be subject to such scenarios panning out. If this is the case – and you do consequently become a victim of a premediated RTA whereby you believe that you have been the victim of a scam – then there are a number of measures you can undertake to keep one step ahead of the fraudsters.

These include taking photos which accurately record the damage sustained to both vehicles (along with capturing registration plates and descriptions of those third parties involved), inform your motor insurer of what happened ASAP (but don’t necessarily allow them to accept liability as a knee-jerk reaction as a damage limitation exercise), speak with a solicitor (it’s crucial that you have someone on board from the outset to defend any claims which you’ll be subject to), beware of unsolicited phone calls from the insurers of the third party’s vehicle (as their main objective would be to get you to admit liability then and there – so refer them to your insurers) and always refuse a pre-medical offer from them (together with refusing to provide your own).

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