How can I avoid becoming a victim of crash for cash?
- Look well ahead and try to anticipate possible hazards.
- Allow plenty of space to the car in front, especially at junctions and pedestrian crossings.
- Be wary of a vehicle in front driving erratically or slowing down for no apparent reason.
- If you suspect that the car in front’s brake lights may not be working keep well out of their way.
- Never assume that flashing headlights is a signal to proceed.
- Don’t assume, when waiting at a junction, that a vehicle coming from the right and signalling left will actually turn. Wait and make sure.
What should I do if I think I've been a victim of crash for cash?
If you've been involved in a collision that you suspect may have been deliberately induced:
- Don't admit liability for anything at the scene
- It’s best not to challenge the other driver directly with your suspicions
- Take written notes including descriptions of the other driver and any passengers and what's said.
- Take photographs, discreetly if you can, showing:
- the general scene
- the damage to both vehicles
- the inside of the other vehicle showing the number of occupants – a picture proving there weren't lots of people in the car reduces the potential for a fraudulent injury claim
- Insist on calling the police (the fraudster may well back off) and tell them of your suspicions when you do so.
- Check for independent witnesses, but be aware that gangs can plant witnesses as part of the scam.
- Report the incident to your insurer as soon as possible, and tell them about your suspicions
- Report the incident to the Insurance Fraud Bureau Cheatline on 0800 422 0421, or on their website
How does crash for cash work?
In 'crash for cash', ‘accidents’ putting innocent drivers’ lives at risk are staged to make fraudulent and exaggerated insurance claims for vehicle damage, personal injury, and other 'costs'. The money is often used to fund more serious crimes.
Where one vehicle hits another from behind, it’s usually the driver of the car behind that’s deemed to be at fault. So in 'crash for cash' scams the aim is to deliberately stage or induce an accident for which the other (following) driver can be blamed:
- A car may pull in front of you and brake sharply and suddenly giving you no chance to avoid going into the back of them.
- A car may appear to accelerate away from traffic lights or a roundabout normally only to brake sharply for no obvious reason.
- Cars have been reported slamming on the brakes when approaching a pedestrian crossing, even though the crossing and the road ahead were completely clear.
- Fraudsters have been known to go so far as to disconnect the brake lights on their vehicle.
Gangs target the vehicles most likely to have insurance and drivers least likely to cause a scene so mums with children in the car, older drivers, well-maintained cars and cars with private plates may all be at higher risk.
Fraudsters may also deliberately crash two vehicles together in private or even make a completely fabricated claim for a 'ghost' accident that never happened at all.
Flash for cash
In 'flash for cash', a fraudster will flash their headlights at you, apparently to beckon you out of a junction or filling station, only to speed up and induce a crash for which you’ll be blamed – "I was driving along normally and you just pulled out without looking!"
Do dashboard cameras help?
More and more drivers are installing ‘dash cams’ in their car to protect against this type of fraud or even to protect themselves against possible charges of careless driving such as tailgating or lane-hogging.
Cameras continuously record HD quality video to a memory card, constantly overwriting previously recorded footage. If you're involved in an incident the related footage can be saved for viewing on a PC together with speed and GPS location data and shared with the police or your insurer.
HD quality video linked to GPS location data can help protect you against crash for cash scams and can help establish who was involved and who was to blame in the event of an accident too.
How much does insurance fraud cost?
- Car insurance fraud costs honest policy holders something like £50 on every annual premium.
- The Insurance Fraud Bureau was set up in 2006 to clamp down on organised insurance fraud.
- The cost of insurance fraud has come down but it’s still worth around £340 million a year.
27 March 2017