Crash for cash caught on camera

Insurance fraud takes on all sorts of guises, from ‘fronting’ to exaggerated and invented whiplash claims to staged ‘crash-for-cash’ collisions. All could land you with a massive fine, penalty points on your licence, your car impounded and even maybe a stretch at Her Majesty’s pleasure. Naming yourself as the main driver on your kid’s policy is one thing, but manoeuvring a vehicle so another will crash into it is quite another – and, worryingly, the latter is a growing trend across the UK.
Car crash

What is ‘crash-for-cash’?

Crash-for-cash scams are usually arranged by criminal gangs who will either deliberately cause road accidents involving innocent motorists, or stage accidents in order to make fraudulent car insurance claims. One stark example of this happened on the M25 when a Ford Galaxy containing four people – the more injuries, the bigger the claim – veered across three lanes and into the path of an oncoming heavy goods vehicle (HGV) to instigate a smash. Amazingly, there were no serious injuries and no other vehicles were involved, and though the four occupants of the Galaxy all made whiplash claims against the haulage company who owned the HGV – to the tune of £75,000, no less – the claims were quickly dismissed when footage from a camera mounted on the lorry’s dashboard showed the car deliberately swerving into the path of the HGV. And this is exactly how it happened… [embed width="660" height="415"][/embed] There are over half-a-million whiplash claims made in the UK each year and insurance experts estimate almost two-thirds (60%) of these are fraudulent. The latest figures suggest crash-for-cash is a £1billion-a-year scam. Here’s something else to ponder. The number of accidents on UK roads has fallen since 2006, but over the same period there’s been a 60% rise in the number of road-related personal injury claims. And that’s despite the fact we’re driving cars that afford better protection to their occupants in the event of a collision. So what is being done about it?

Fighting the fraudsters

Over the last year or so there have been a number of initiatives designed to curb the enthusiasm of insurance fraudsters, notably the laws on Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) and the ban on referral fees, which put a stop to insurance firms selling on details of crashes and personal injury claims to solicitors or other third parties. In addition, the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) now cross-reference data with the Motor Insurance Database (MID) to find any discrepancies and potential cases of fraud, while the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) and the Insurance Fraud Register (IFR) are also in place to clamp down on known fraudsters. Just this week 84 defendants appeared in court following two-year operation by police to uncover a large scale crash-for-cash scam operating in south Wales. Another two people will appear in court next week and all will face charges including fraud against insurance firms, conspiracy to steal vehicles and money laundering. And in-car technology is also playing its part too; telematics boxes can help to nail down exactly who was at fault in the event of a crash, while the latest crash-for-cash scam (above) was scuppered thanks to a Smart Witness camera fitted to the dashboard. As well as recording the driver’s view of the road, the Smart Witness system also acts much like a telematics box, monitoring a vehicle’s location, speed and braking, and even the force of any impact. If you have one of these devices fitted to your car, it’s worth mentioning to your insurer as it may make you eligible for a discount on your cover.

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