Mike Waters' blog: 16 June 2011 - Highway robbery
16 June 2011
Mike Waters is head of market analysis at Arval
I have spoken on this subject in the past but based on recent feedback feel the need to bring it up again as more and more insurance companies report an increase in the number of "crash for cash" scams that they are seeing on the UK's roads.
This means dishonest drivers targeting an innocent vehicle and deliberately colliding with it. This is generally by side-swiping or by getting in front and slamming on the brakes. The perpetrator 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.
Figures from the Insurance Fraud Bureau show that the practice of staging deliberate car crashes cost insurers around £350m in 2009. They also say that this activity is on the rise as an estimate 30,000 accidents were staged last year which is pushing up insurance premiums by an average of £44 per driver.
The people committing the crime are often not 'chancers' but organised criminal gangs used to catching unsuspecting drivers and making money out of the consequences. An east-midlands based gang was recently jailed for a combined 11 years for engineering crashes.
While the Police and insurance companies are well aware of this issue and are quick to identify suspicious activity, awareness among motorists is not so good. A poll from Bluefin Insurance showed that as many as 41% of UK drivers have never even heard of the crime which makes them more susceptible on the road.
All I can say is "be aware" that you could be a target at any time. The normal driving practises of leaving a sufficient gap between you and the vehicle in front and concentrating at all times will help to avoid this kind of trap.
Advice from the Police says that if you are involved in an accident that you believe may have been 'staged':
. Make your concerns known to the Police and your insurers
. Conversely, 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
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