How to avoid becoming a victim of ‘crash for cash’ car insurance scams; what to look out for

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‘Crash for cash’ is a scam whereby fraudsters stage a car crash in order to claim on your insurance. It can be lucrative for criminals and potentially dangerous — as well as costly – for car drivers. Find out how you can avoid it.

What are crash-for-cash accidents?
Crash-for-cash accidents often happen at slip roads by busy roundabouts or junctions, when you’re likely to be concentrating on several things at once.

1. Typically, the car in front will brake suddenly, forcing you to crash into it. It’s the easiest type of accident to demonstrate as being your ‘fault’.

2. Some criminals disable their brake lights so there’s no warning that they’re going to stop.

3. Other fraudsters damage their own vehicles, so they can claim for hire cars and time off work.

SAVVY TIP: Fraudsters make money by claiming against your insurance; often for repair work that’s not been carried out or for whiplash compensation, which may be for fictitious passengers.

What you can do
If you think you’ve been involved in a crash-for-cash accident, the Insurance Fraud Bureau issues the following advice:

1. Don’t give in to demands to pay cash there and then.
2. Don’t do anything that would put your own safety at risk.
3. Make a mental note of everything that happened. Take down details (either at the time if it feels safe to do so or directly afterwards), such as the registration, make and model of the car and make a note of the damage.
4. If you or anyone else has been injured, you should call the police.

SAVVY TIP: Normally, the advice would be to get hold of independent witnesses, but with crash-for-cash accidents, it’s better to be wary of anyone who seems particularly keen to help. They will normally back up your version of events at the scene but will change their story when a claim has been submitted.

What are insurers doing?
Tell your insurer if you think you’ve been the victim of a staged accident — even if it’s just a suspicion. If they don’t think the accident is genuine, they shouldn’t pay the claim. Insurers say they’re aware of this problem, but some can be more helpful than others. No insurer wants to pay out tens of thousands of pounds for a fraudulent claim so if the call handler isn’t taking your concerns seriously, ask for the fraud department or senior claims manager.

SAVVY TIP: If your insurer wants to pay a claim that you believe is suspicious, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service, an independent complaints service (that’s free to use).The only problem is that you have to complain to your insurer first and they have up to eight weeks in which to resolve your complaint before the Financial Ombudsman Service can get involved.

Related articles:

Complaining to the Financial Ombudsman Service

Women drivers – how to save money on car insurance

Can a minor conviction invalidate your insurance?

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