Mike Waters' blog: 24 March 2010 - Nothing entertaining about staged crashes
24 March 2010
Mike Waters is head of market analysis at Arval
Some drivers already know about it, it has happened to others, but for those that are driving oblivious I want to help raise awareness of the growing trend in fraudsters intentionally causing accidents so that they can make bogus insurance claims.
Well organised and working in gangs, dishonest drivers will target an innocent vehicle and deliberately collide with it, either by side-swiping it or by getting in front of it and slamming on the brakes. They will then claim against insurance for injuries (often whiplash), legal costs, loss of earnings and often for more people than were actually in the vehicle.
The police are well aware of this issue and have even established a special unit to train officers in spotting and dealing with just this type of suspicious collision. The insurance companies are also well aware of this issue but unfortunately there may be many drivers that are not.
Like any crime, there are things that can be done to mitigate your risk, one of which is being able to identify the tell tale signs of a premeditated accident before it happens. Most incidents of this type are staged at night at junctions and roundabouts, often when there are few witnesses around. The fraudsters' brake lights are often disabled to ensure that the driver of the car behind is given no warning. The offending vehicle will often be driven erratically with the driver checking their mirrors unusually often and there is a good chance that the offending vehicle will not look well cared for.
These criminals are not only costing honest drivers millions of pounds each year but also putting motorists in danger. While the fraudsters prefer to make many smaller, less suspicious claims, there are examples where payouts have been more than £100,000.
As well as watching out for signs of illegal behaviour, standard safe driving practises should apply, leaving a sufficient gap between you and the vehicle in front and concentrating at all times. This reduces the chances of you being caught out by this or any type of accident for that matter.
However, if you are unlucky enough to be in a collision that you think is suspicious, the police have offered some basic advice:
. Do not say anything to the other driver about your suspicions
. Take photos of both cars and passengers
. Count the number of passengers in the other car
. Try to find an independent witness
. Tell the police and your insurers about your suspicions
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