Crashing For Cash: Staged Accidents up by 51%
Insurance giant, Aviva, has revealed that they uncovered 820 incidences of fraud involving staged accidents in 2013. This was an increase of 51% on the previous year. The accidents together resulted in around 2,200 false personal injury claims.
Insurance giant, Aviva, has revealed that they uncovered 820 incidences of fraud involving staged accidents in 2013. This was an increase of 51% on the previous year. The accidents together resulted in around 2,200 false personal injury claims. The company is demanding that the Government introduces tougher penalties for such offences, after their research showed that many offenders are being given community orders, rather than jail sentences. Aviva claims that such penalties are not deterring fraudsters from re-offending. According to the firm, which insures around 10% of UK cars, about half of the fake accidents are being staged by organised criminal gangs.
Aviva has suggested that the successful efforts the insurance industry has made to combat fake whiplash injuries, where often no accident has occurred, has resulted in crooks switching tactics to stage fake accidents in order to provide more evidence for their claim.
The fraudsters often target innocent motorists. The usual strategy is to brake suddenly and for no apparent reason, causing the car behind to crash into the criminals’ car. The insurance industry almost always regards the car behind as being at fault in such accidents, so the claim is often settled by the innocent motorist’s insurer. In some cases, the criminals increase their chance of causing an accident by disconnecting their brake lights. The criminal gangs are known to target drivers that they think are most likely to be insured, such as those with newer and more expensive cars, drivers with children and older motorists.
The scam can result in danger and real injury for innocent victims. It also inflates the cost of insurance for all UK drivers. The cost of fraud is reckoned to add £50 to the average annual premium. Aviva’s head of claims fraud, Tom Gardiner, said: ''The fast growth of induced accidents on our roads is cause for serious concern. Fraudsters are prepared to put the safety of innocent motorists and their families and passengers at risk for their own personal gain. We believe that convictions for motor injury fraud resulting from induced accidents should result in more custodial sentences that recognise the unique physical harm that this form of insurance fraud poses to motorists, as well as the wider social costs.''
The insurance company has pointed out that there are some precautions that drivers can take to minimise their chances of being involved in a crash for cash scam. Drivers should focus first on always maintaining a safe distance from the car in front. They should also be wary of cars whose brake lights appear not to be working, leaving an even greater distance between the vehicles or stopping and changing their route altogether. They should also be on the lookout for drivers who appear to be focusing too much attention on the road behind them; perhaps looking over their shoulder at junctions or spending too much time looking into the rear view mirror. Should the worst happen, any driver who thinks that he has been the victim of a crash for cash fraud should call the police from the scene of the accident and ask them to attend the incident before leaving.
Crash for cash scams are not the only car insurance frauds. Some motorists deliberately write off their own car and then claim that the car has been involved in a hit-and-run accident. Without any evidence to the contrary from CCTV cameras, it is difficult for the insurance company to prove otherwise.
Other motorists stage phoney car thefts. They simply drive their car to a remote location and often set it on fire or dump it in a river to ensure the car is damaged beyond repair and the incident looks like a genuine theft. They complete a police report and claim the insurance when the car is eventually found.
The most common false injury claim is that of whiplash. Insurance industry bodies estimate that more than half a million people claim for whiplash every year. It is famously difficult to disprove a whiplash injury and the cost to the insurance industry is reckoned to be £2 billion, or £90 on every driver’s policy.