Staged accidents at over 300,000 in past five years

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Published: 19th November 2016
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According to LV=, over 300,000 staged accidents have occurred within the past five years. The company's research shows that females and under 35s were the most targeted as they are less likely to challenge an insurance claim. Almost two-thirds, 65%, of victims were female and 59% were under 35 years of age.

The staged accident scam

These scams are called 'crash for cash' scams. According to LV='s data, the most common types of staged accidents are 'slam on', 'flash for cash' and 'full car smash' scams.

A 'slam on' is where the fraudster brakes sharply for no apparent reason, causing the driver behind to drive into the back of them. The fraudsters will often disconnect their brakes ligts so the motorist behind does not know that they are slowing down. More than 300,000 people have been a victim of a 'slam on' scam in 2013.

A 'flash for cash' scam is where the fraudster will flash their headlights at the victim to let them merge into traffic but will then drive ahead and crash into the back of their vehicle. Three percent of drivers believe that they were involved in a 'flash for cash' scam in 2013.

A 'full car smash' is where fraudsters take a car load of passengers out on the roads and then induce an accident with another vehicle. They then make multiple claims for personal injuries, often far outweighing the repair cost of the involved vehicles.

These scams have affected more than 1,000 innocent motorists a week and each situation usually results in a 'your word against mine' situation making it extremely difficult to allocate blame.
In all of these cases, the fraudster will usually claim for injuries such as whiplash, with additional pay-outs to compensate for loss of car or lost earnings. There have also been increasing amounts of fraudsters exaggerating the circumstances of the 'accident' in an attempt to gain a higher payout. This has even involved fraudsters attempting to claim compensation for passengers who were not in the vehicle at the time.

A staged accidents example

In one case an LV= customer was returning home when he found a vehicle blocking the entrance to his road. He sounded his horn to alert the other driver to move, but instead the driver got out of his vehicle and approached the insured and started to assault him, causing the insured to slip off the brake pedal and accidentally drive into the back of the vehicle.
Two days after the accident, the third party tried to claim he had a whiplash injury when he was not in his vehicle at the time of impact. The claim was challenged by LV='s fraud team and the driver was convicted for fraud by misrepresentation.

Comments on the staged accident scams

Managing director of LV= car insurance, John O'Roarke commented, "Every year there are tens of thousands of staged accidents that are putting the safety of innocent motorists at risk. Fraud is not a victimless crime and the cost of paying fraudulent claims drives up the cost of car insurance for all. LV= takes a hard line on fraud, investigates all suspicious claims and pushes for the toughest sentences for those who are prosecuted."

The staged accident figures

Figures released by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) in July showed 1.1 billion of fraudulent insurance claims were lodged in 2012, up 110 million on the year before. The level of fraud was nearly double that recorded in 2007 and was driven by a surge in false whiplash claims. The ABI said fraudulent motor insurance claims totalled 610m, 55% of the total.
Car insurance premiums have started to fall since ministers began a crackdown on fraudulent whiplash claims, however court awards for those injured in car crashes have increased in recent years.
There is no way to fully protect against fraudulent staged accidents but many have taken to equipping their vehicles with a dashboard camera which will at least prove what has actually occurred.

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