Car insurance Updated:
They've become so common that they've even been given their own phrases – "crash for cash" and fraudulent "slam-ons" – these are road accidents, deliberately caused so that unscrupulous people can claim for false whiplash compensation.
Worryingly these kinds of irresponsible and dangerous accidents have been on the increase and even hit record levels in 2013 – up 51% and costing more than £10 million, according to data collected by insurance firm Aviva.
The cost and inconvenience is one thing, but the biggest concern is that these induced accidents are putting the public at risk. Tragically at least one motorist has already been killed as a result of being caught up in an accident deliberately caused by fraudsters, and this risk looks to be increasing.
At present, there is little to deter this dangerous behaviour as "crash for cash" fraudsters are still entitled to recover their original claim, even if they have exaggerated their claim by tens of thousands of pounds, and the most common sentence for being convicted is currently a community order. This is why Aviva is calling for stronger deterrents in the form of larger sentences, and it welcomes recent measures outlined by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling requiring courts to strike out claims where the claimant has been fundamentally dishonest about their injury.
It seems that the general public agree wholeheartedly, with 66% of those questioned saying they would like stronger sentencing and a further 87% feeling that custodial sentences would send out the strongest message. One person questioned said: "People's lives have been changed because [fraudsters] are trying to get something they are not entitled to", while another said "I am not sure about fines, fraudsters should be put away."
Tom Gardiner, head of claims fraud at Aviva, 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.
"The reach of crash for cash doesn't stop at the scene of the accident, but impacts a wider circle of victims. Stronger deterrents, such as those announced by the Ministry of Justice, as well as more proportionate sentencing that recognises the very real threat of physical harm to the victim, will serve to further deter fraudsters, protect the public and keep premiums low for customers."
It is difficult to spot these unscrupulous criminals but if you keep your wits about you, you just may be able to avoid a potentially dangerous situation. Here are a few pointers to bear in mind:
And, if you are in an accident:
Get the best car insurance quote.
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