Seems that no matter how we try to protect ourselves from becoming the victim of a crime, someone’s going to come up with a scam that’s possibly going to affect us and the latest one is to involve us in a car crash, then claim big time off your insurers, its called ‘Insurance Fraud’, or “Crash for Cash” if you prefer tabloid type descriptions.
So let’s try and give you some tips that will help you, if you think you’ve been involved in a deliberately staged accident.
Whilst you are probably thinking “it won’t affect me, I am too smart for that”, just think on this, as it’s understood that in the last 12 months alone, there has been a 30% rise in the number of suspicious motor vehicle accidents, so the fraudsters involved could easily be appearing on a road near you any time soon.
Clearly, this is one of the fastest growing scams around and it has the potential to affect every one of us that drives, as we are all potential victims of cleverly staged accidents, with the most popular scenario being that the fraudster brakes really hard after just pulling onto a roundabout, causing the car behind to crash into the back of them and don’t forget, the law says its your fault, because you were driving to closely or perhaps not paying attention.
So OK, you leave a decent gap between yourself and the car in front on an ordinary road, well the fraudsters have that one covered as well, often using two cars, the one in front of you (which you are a decent way behind) then another, which overtakes you and pulls into the gap, again braking really heavily, causing you either to swerve into oncoming traffic, or run into the back of them.
Just to emphasise how serious this is, in the last 3 months, it’s claimed such cases have increased by 21%, with a corresponding increase in exaggerated claims of 27% and what this means is that the fraudsters claim there were more passengers in the vehicle than there actually were and they claim for non-existent injuries and for damage which is far far worse than it really was.
So who is vulnerable, well I guess all of us are, but as the fraudsters scam only works, providing you are insured, they target modern cars, or expensive cars or perhaps vehicles with company logo’s where the claim is going to get paid and clearly that’s going to encompass a massive amount of company cars as well.
OK, you might say that it won’t affect you, as your insurance company picks-up the tab, but truth is, apart from the fact that your car probably won’t drive after the accident and of course, assuming you are uninjured yourself, you will have to find another way home. You will have to arrange for your car to be taken to the repairers and chances are your insurers may not give you a free loan vehicle either, as the accident was clearly your fault (you were to blame), so you are without a car, leaving you having to pay to hire one. To add insult to injury, you will probably lose your no claims bonus, meaning more expensive insurance next time round and the final ignominy is that you still have to tell you’re boss, your wife, your husband and all your mates that you were stupid enough to run into the back of someone.
So our tips are:-If you think there is anything at all suspicious about the accident you’ve just been involved in, do what you can to safeguard yourself by taking as much detail as you can. Ask the driver of the other car if he has his licence, or insurance with him, get his contact details, take details of where the other car is damaged, write it down. If there are any witnesses, ask them how your insurers can contact them. If you’ve got a camera phone, take a picture of the cars (ideally, before you move them), take a picture of the damaged area of the car you’ve just run into and if you can get any general location pictures, and if they include the driver of the car you’ve hit and any passengers, all the better. BUT IMPORTANTLY, remember these are not nice people, they are criminals and they don’t want to be caught and they will not want you to do this, so what ever you do, don’t put yourself at any kind of risk.
Anyway you look at it, this is going to be a difficult and inconvenient situation for you and chances are, its going to cost you money, but if your accident was deliberately staged and if you believe it was, tell your insurers immediately and they will investigate, as they now have fraud detection departments and we are told that they uncover scams like this everyday so don’t think they will ignore it, they won’t, they want to catch these people.
Of interest, present studies show that its in the major urban areas like Birmingham, Manchester, East London, Liverpool, North London, Bradford, Oldham, Blackburn, Leeds & Bolton that are the hot spots, with Manchester seeing a 212% increase in the number of suspicious claimants in 2009, but just a few years ago, the problem was just confined to a few areas in the North West, so its spreading and spreading fast, because its an easy way to make a quick buck by causing innocent people a tremendous amount of grief, financial loss and of course the risk of personal injury.
So in the words of Hill Street Blue’s, “Lets Be Careful Out There”.