From rental fraud to financial scams, the less-than-honest take advantage wherever they can. Crash for cash scams are no different and are a type of insurance fraud. While some cases involve a group of criminals, others affect innocent drivers. Here, we look at how crash for cash scams work, how to avoid being targeted and what you should do if you are.
- What is crash for cash?
- How does crash for cash work?
- How do crash for cash accidents happen?
- How can crash for cash have an impact on me or my business?
- How can I prevent crash for cash scams from happening to me?
- What should I do if I’m a victim of a crash for cash scam?
- Can my insurance help me in the event of a crash for cash scam?
The scam involves deliberately crashing a vehicle into the car of an unsuspecting driver. The fraudster will then attempt to claim compensation, usually for whiplash, as this is an easy injury to fake. It is also known as an ‘induced accident’.
Fraudsters create scenarios that cause accidents, for example, stopping unexpectedly, which makes the car behind crash into them. In some cases, criminals work in teams where one person will drive erratically in front of the other, leading to an accident. The criminal driver in front of you can then claim it was the erratic driving of the car in front of them that caused them to brake suddenly.
Police have also warned that crash for cash scams are evolving. In a more recent example, fraudsters will throw something at your car to imitate the sound of a crash and then accuse you of damaging their wing mirror. They will then demand money and intimidate you if you don’t comply. This particular crash for cash scam has been nicknamed ‘clip for cash’.
In addition to the newest clip for cash scam, the most commonly used methods fall into one of three categories:
This is when they crash their cars into each other or damage their own cars with the intention of making a fraudulent claim. Staged accidents generally only involve the criminals themselves.
This is when criminals create a situation that results in an accident. Often, this includes stopping unexpectedly so you hit their car, but another common method is when criminals flash their lights to let you pass but then drive into you.
With an induced accident, the victim is set up to be the driver ‘at fault’, which means the criminal can then make a claim against them.
These are accidents that never actually happen. Instead, criminals will make one up and submit a claim.
Genuine accidents are bad enough and can leave you feeling stressed and shocked. It could even leave you feeling anxious behind the wheel. In time though (and depending on the severity of the incident), those feelings should become more manageable.
But if you’ve been the victim of a crash for cash scam, it can be harder to deal with. Knowing that someone has intentionally set out to cause damage can leave you feeling particularly vulnerable and suspicious.
One of the worst aspects of crash for cash scams is that criminals tend to target drivers who are already vulnerable. This often includes people who are time-poor (like parents on the school run) or those they feel they can easily intimidate (such as young drivers, lone women, or older people).
However, not only is there an emotional aspect, but there’s also a financial consequence. If you’re involved in an accident, your premium will usually increase, and you could lose your no claims discount unless you have protected it or can prove that the claim is fraudulent.
For businesses, it can lead to an increase in fleet insurance costs. Plus, if you have signwriting on your car or van and it’s involved in an accident, witnesses could view your business negatively, which can affect its reputation.
To reduce the chances of being a victim of a crash for cash scam, you should try to:
Keep a safe distance
Unexpected stopping is a favoured crash for cash method, so try to stay a safe distance from the car in front of you, especially at busy spots such as roundabouts and slip roads.
Watch out and stay alert
Be aware of cars that seem to be driving particularly slowly or erratically – fast one minute and slow the next. It’s also worth being alert to the actual vehicle and not just its lights. Some fraudsters intentionally use the wrong indicators or will disable their brake lights.
Particularly when it comes to pulling out at junctions, remember, fraudsters often flash their lights inviting you to go but then drive into you anyway.
Spot the signs
Real incidents will normally leave all parties a little shaken, but criminals are likely to be unaffected and even blasé after an accident. On the other hand, they may also make injuries sound or appear worse than the impact would suggest.
Another tell-tale sign they could be fraudulent is if they already have their details written out and ready to hand over.
If you think you’ve been targeted by crash for cash criminals, you should not confront them with your suspicions.
Instead, gather information as you would after any accident. This includes taking photos of the incident and the immediate surroundings. You should note how many people are in the cars involved, as fraudsters often submit personal injury claims for more people than were actually involved.
If you can, try to find witnesses and note their account of the accident and contact details.
If you notice CCTV in the area, it’s also worth asking for footage showing what happened. Similarly, dashcam footage is useful too.
You should then report the incident to the police and your insurer, telling them what happened and why you think it was a crash for cash scam. You can also call the Insurance Fraud Bureau’s Cheatline in confidence on 0800 422 0421.
Crash for cash scams can be difficult to prove, especially if criminals carry out their activity in quiet spots or areas with limited CCTV and no witnesses. With this in mind, having a dashcam can be immensely valuable. Often, when a fraudster puts in a claim for personal injury, it’s not just them they claim for, but lots of passengers too – but having dashcam evidence should clearly show what happened, who was involved, and how many people there were.
In terms of your insurance, if your car hits another car from behind, it’ll usually be you that’s considered at fault. Unless there is clear evidence that the incident was staged and fraudulent, your no claims discount will likely be reduced, and your premium will also rise at renewal.
Car insurance to help you stay safe
Insurance can’t stop criminals but can help you cover costs after a genuine accident. To better understand how our insurance broker services can help minimise your financial losses, we’ve put together a series of motor insurance guides. If you’d prefer to speak to a team member, call 01603 649650.