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Increasing danger from “Crash for Cash” fraudsters

Increasing danger from “Crash for Cash” fraudsters

Category: Car insurance

Updated: 18/06/2014
First Published: 18/06/2014

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

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:

  • Stay vigilant and be aware of everyone around you.
  • Keep your distance from the car ahead, enabling you to be able to stop should it make a sudden manoeuvre.
  • Keep your eye on the car in front's brake lights and make sure they are working.
  • Check driver behaviour, are they driving erratically – fast and then slow? Are they focusing on you too much – they could be planning something? Passengers' actions may also give this away.

And, if you are in an accident:

  • Keep calm, don't argue and, above all, don't admit liability.
  • Call the police, informing them that you suspect you have been a victim of a "crash for cash" scam.
  • Take down as much information as possible – time, date, location, vehicle details, driver details, witness details etc, and take picture and video evidence if you can.
  • Contact your insurer as soon as possible after the accident to give them the information.

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Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.