Insurance Fraud

AA Insurance calls for wider police action

4 December 2009

A new initiative by the Metropolitan Police to target 'cash for crash' insurance scams should be copied by other police forces, says AA Car Insurance.

The Metropolitan Police has established a specialist unit to train officers to watch out for signs of suspicious collisions that could be staged accidents designed to defraud insurance companies for bogus personal injury claims.

Simon Douglas, director of AA Car Insurance, has welcomed this initiative. "Only recently a man from the north-west of England was jailed for causing more than 90 'crash for cash' collisions resulting in £1.9 million in fraudulent insurance claims. I'm certain that with better surveillance and co-ordination between insurers and police, that orgy of crime could have been stopped earlier.

"Similar specialist units in other police forces could better protect drivers throughout the UK from such activity."

Douglas points out that staged accidents are usually at relatively low speed at complex junctions such as roundabouts or intersections and often the tail lights of the vehicle have been disabled, to increase the likelihood of a rear-end collision.

"The fraudster subsequently makes claims for personal injury (usually whiplash) from his passengers who may not have been in the vehicle at all. The hapless victim, meanwhile, has to suffer the inconvenience of getting his car repaired and is likely to lose his excess and no-claim bonus."

Detective Chief Inspector Nick Chalmers of the Metropolitan Police said it is only a matter of time before someone is killed as a result of such activity.

30% increase in fraudulent claims

Douglas adds: "The recession has encouraged more people to make fraudulent insurance claims, quite apart from staged accidents of this sort. AA Insurance has seen a 30 per cent rise this year in the number of other types of car insurance claims that turned out to be fraudulent (such as 'fronting', false or withheld information) and the insurance industry is getting smarter at identifying them.

"Initiatives such as that from the Metropolitan Police are to be applauded and I hope it is taken up by all police forces," says Douglas.

According to ABI figures, detected fraudulent claims amounted to £730 million last year with up to £1.9bn slipping through the net, adding around £44 to the average cost of every insurance policy.

Could you spot a scam?

AA Insurance points out that the best way to avoid being involved in a 'cash for crash' scam is to keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front.

It may be being driven more slowly than you might expect, to encourage you to get closer and its driver will be watching to see whether you look away at oncoming traffic as you approach a junction such as a roundabout.

At the junction the vehicle may appear to start to pull away but then make an 'emergency' stop.

  • Common tactics include suddenly stopping at a roundabout or a busy junction when you might be distracted by other traffic
  • The brake lights may be disconnected, increasing the likelihood of a collision
  • The driver may claim he stopped suddenly because of a dog or bike crossing in front and saying something like: "didn't you see that bloke on the bike ...that dog run out..." and of course you wouldn't have done
  • Fraudsters are usually very polite and conciliatory as you exchange details but don't be fooled, if you have any doubt at all call the police. If the driver objects or says it isn't necessary, call anyway: they may then simply leave it and go away
  • Take pictures with your mobile phone if you can. Check to see who else is in the vehicle. Try to find a witness
  • Tell your insurer and the police if afterwards, you think you may be the victim of a fraudulent claim

Join the discussion in the AA zone


4 December 2009