It’s shocking to think that any motorist would risk injury to themselves and others by staging a car accident with the deliberate and criminal intent of claiming on their victim’s insurance. Yet this type of insurance scam, known as ‘car crash fraud’, has been a menace on UK roads for several years. Sadly, the numbers of incidents are on the increase.
These dangerous crashes and illegal car insurance fraud has resulted in injury and, in some instances, fatalities.
Car crash scam practices make victims of us all: According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), ‘induced accidents’ contribute to the insurance industry’s annual insurance fraud bill of some £1.9 billion a year, which adds around £44 to the average car insurance premium. (Source: ABI Nov 2011).
At Zurich, we are committed to informing our customers about all such risks to your driving safety and wellbeing, as well as providing you with information about what you can do to protect yourself from such crimes. We, along with other leading UK insurance companies, don’t think that customers should be paying for motor insurance fraud, which is the unfortunate reality until crime rates fall to significantly lower levels.
The insurance industry is fighting back. It has committed to a co-ordinated plan of action to stamp out organised insurance crime in the UK via the establishment of the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB), set up to share information on suspicious claims and work with the police to crack down on these crimes.
The facts about car insurance fraud
Insurance fraud is becoming increasingly complex. Induced motor accidents are an example of organised fraud, which is where an innocent motorist is forced to crash into the back of the fraudster’s vehicle (Source: ABI Nov 2011)
Picture the scene: you’re approaching traffic lights or are on a roundabout when the car in front of you slams on its brakes – sharply and without warning. The car in front has no brake lights so you’re not prepared and consequently slam into the back of them. It’s unavoidable. But is it really your fault? For victims of car crash scams, all is not as it seems.
The perpetrators of these scams often work in teams with passengers who corroborate their side of the story and conveniently placed ‘witnesses’. They then claim insurance from their victims both for damage to their vehicle and personal injury, such as whiplash, whether real or not.
What to do if you’re suspicious about an accident or have been a victim of car insurance fraud:
While it is practically impossible to avoid such situations other than to practice standard road safety, such as ensuring you maintain a safe distance from the car in front of you, there are recommended procedures to follow if you think you’ve been a victim.
As you normally would in the event of an accident, calmly exchange details with the other driver and call the police and emergency services immediately if anyone has been injured.
Try to retrace the event – were any of the passengers in the car in front turning round to look at you before the car braked?
Write down all the details, including descriptions of the driver and any other passengers in the other vehicle - their age, gender, clothing and any other detail that stands out.
Ask the driver of the car you’ve crashed into to write down their log of events.
Contact your insurance company and inform them it might be a fraudulent claim if you’re in serious doubt about the true cause of the accident.
Never take independent action: notify your insurance company, and they will investigate and liaise with the police, if necessary.
At Zurich, we take these matters very seriously and will make investigations on your behalf.