Consumers have a number of options when it comes to taking out insurance policies to ensure financial compensation for accidents resulting in damage or injuries.
While many people benefit from these policies, others have become the victims of scammers looking to take advantage of the insurance system for their own criminal gains.
“Crash for cash” is one such nefarious activity that is becoming increasingly popular according to the insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB), an organisation established in 2006 to lead the insurance industry’s collective fight against organised fraud.
It recently revealed that in 2019, over 3,000 fraudulent crash for cash claims being made, with insurers detecting one every three hours.
These not only put victims’ safety at risk but causes them legal repercussions and financial loss. With falsified claims costing policy holders nearly £350 million per year it is important to understand how they work and what to do if you are involved in a similar situation.
How do crash for cash scams work?
These scams operate by criminals engineering a situation on the road which will cause an innocent victim to crash their car.
For example, a car may brake suddenly, forcing the car behind it to also slam on their breaks. With little time to react a third car travelling behind the second one will crash straight into it.
Unfortunately the first two cars are driven by scammers and the third by an innocent victim. The first will quickly drive away leaving the other scammer to make a claim against the innocent and unknowing third party.
Another common technique is the removal of brake lights to force a rear bumper crash. Whilst these are harder to spot in real time, there are things that can be done once a crash has occurred.
How to recognise crash for cash scenarios after the incident
From understanding how these scams work, it is important to be able to identify a crash for cash scam as it takes place. If you are involved in a crash due to someone in front of you breaking excessively, here is what to watch out for.
One tell-tale sign is when there are three or four people within a car that has been crashed into, who quickly begin claiming they are suffering from whiplash. An injury which is hard to quantify or prove.
They will then place a large claim against your insurance that will in turn, increase your premium in the years to come.
They may even say they will accept a cash payment to avoid an insurance claim. This is an immediate red flag if they propose this and you should be wary. In some cases, they will accept the payment and still put a hefty insurance claim through regardless of your cash payment at the time.
A second sign is injuries that do not equate to the impact, angle of or severity of the crash. Be wary of injuries that seem to be days old or unquantifiable knocks that are tough to disprove.
Keep an eye out for small signs of planning ahead. Have they already got their insurance details prepared before the exchange begins?
Are they leaving the vehicle with pen and paper in hand to get your details as soon as possible? Throughout the whole scenario are they remarkably calm for someone who has just been in an accident?
Keeping these in mind and identifying the signs is crucial when it comes to highlighting potential scams and could save you a lot of money in the long term, so don’t feel guilty about having reservations about the legitimacy of any crashes you’re in.
What to do if you fall victim to a crash for cash scam
At the scene of the crash the most you can do is remain cautious and aware whilst taking note of as many details as possible.
Taking pictures or recording footage can also help to strengthen your case against potential scammers. Ask them for their details including drivers name, phone number, address and number plate as well as the make and model of their vehicle.
Do not accept blame for the accident and try to get any images or details of other passengers to avoid any future claims that may not have occurred at the time. Again, if you can get their details or ID, it will strengthen your case.
Fraudsters will often target people without a dashboard security camera so look for any CCTV available and do not be afraid to shout out to potential witnesses.
However, scammers will be on the lookout for CCTV and witnesses, so a personal dashboard camera is the best bet to rule yourself out as a target before the scam has begun.
After the initial crash and exchange of details, you can contact the Insurance Fraud Bureau on 0800 422 0421 to report your suspicions and potentially help provide evidence against a wider gang of fraudsters in the area as well as aid your own case.
Michael Foote is director of cost comparison site Quote Goat https://www.quotegoat.com