What are Crash for Cash schemes? This is where insurance scammers deliberately stage situations, preying on innocent motorists with the intention of inducing a fake car accident, resulting in fraudulent claims for large sums of money. Reports suggest that scammers are costing the UK around £340million each year with car insurance fraud and with such schemes on the rise, we take a look at the top five scams carried out by fraudsters and how you can spot the signs and prevent being a crash for cash victim.
‘Slam On’ Accidents:
This is your typical scam where the vehicle in front intentionally and unexpectedly slams on the brakes with the purpose of catching out the driver behind and causing a rear-end collision.
‘Flash for Crash’ Accidents:
Another tactic employed by fraudsters will see a driver flash their lights to encourage another vehicle to pull out into the flow of traffic only for them to speed up and induce a crash.
‘Crash for Ready Cash’ Accidents:
This scenario is where a third-party stages a collision and, instead of making an illegal insurance claim, will try and con their victim into handing over cash in order to repair damage done to their vehicle. This kind of scam can often be accompanied by threatening behaviour.
‘Hide & Crash’ Accidents:
Typically, this particular scheme is where a vehicles ‘hides’ in the blind sport of another car – for example on a motorway, before moving in front and breaking hard to cause a rear-end collision.
‘Hire & Crash’ Accidents:
This particular scam is where a criminal hires a car and stages an accident with another vehicle; this usually tends to be with someone they know.
Not only does car insurance fraud cost ordinary motorists around £50 on every annual premium, but more importantly puts innocent lives in danger. Making exaggerated claims for things like personal injury - whiplash for example, loss of earnings, car hire and vehicle recovery costs, figures indicate that criminals could receive anywhere up to £20,000 per accident!
With this in mind, when it comes to Crash for Cash scams, fraudsters favour various locations to stage the scam such as major roundabouts where innocent motorists can be distracted by multiple road signs and signals, as well as small out-of-town roundabouts, where criminals will have an easy escape route and are less likely to be caught on CCTV. Busy motorways are another popular location as this allows criminals to carry out ‘Hide & Crash’ incidents as well as traffic lights as, given the unlikely and unsafe environment, any potential witnesses will be reluctant to stop and offer help.
• Stay Alert: Be aware of your driving and that of motorists around you. Looking beyond the car in front will help identify any erratic driving up ahead and allow you to slow down and be ready to brake hard as the intended victim might be you!
• Driver & Passenger Behaviour: If drivers and passengers alike appear to be paying particular attention to the vehicle behind then this could be a warning sign that they are looking to cause an accident.
• Damaged Vehicles: Keep an eye out for any cars that show signs of having been involved in an accident; particularly ones that have damage to the rear. Also check for working brake lights as in some circumstances fraudsters have been known to disable the brake lights in order to increase the likelihood of causing an accident.
• Distance: Always maintain a safe distance between you and the vehicle ahead, as this will ensure that there is enough braking distance should the vehicle in front stop suddenly.
• Lights: Take particular care when trying to join flowing traffic – especially if you are encouraged to do so by another driver flashing their lights at you. Remember the Highway Code states “only flash your headlights to let other road users know that you are there….Never assume that flashing headlights is a signal inviting you to proceed. Use your own judgement and proceed carefully."
• Dashboard Cameras: Installing a dash-cam could be beneficial when it comes to protecting yourself from such scams as the video footage can be saved and shared with the police or your insurer, potentially helping to establish who was involved and who was at fault.
If you happen to be involved in a car accident and suspect that you may be a victim of a Crash for Cash scam then try to remain vigilant and be aware of anything that seems suspicious. If you suspect that is the case then here’s a few things you should do:
• Exchange details with the other party
• If you have a camera (perhaps a on mobile phone) take pictures of the scene
• Seek genuine witnesses and take their details
• Don't admit fault
• Consider whether you need to call the police to the scene
With Crash for Cash schemes on the rise and fraudsters continuously finding new ways to scam unsuspecting drivers, it’s always good to remain alert and the points outlined should enable you to spot the signs and know what to do should you ever find yourself a victim of Crash for Cash.
Have you been involved in a similar situation? Or know of any other scams that affect innocent motorists? Let us know via our social media pages.
Other CarCliq articles that might interest you:
For more CarCliq Guides click here.