One of the UK’s biggest car insurers is predicting a rise in induced road collisions, also known as ‘Crash 4 Cash’ scams, over the coming months as the UK leaves lockdown.
Ageas Insurance says it saw cases rise by 150% when the first national lockdown was lifted in 2020 and that it’s expecting another rise when the latest lockdown restrictions are lifted in July.
Induced collisions are when a fraudster orchestrates an incident with an innocent victim to generate a claim, for example a motorist deliberately brakes in front of another to cause them to crash into their vehicle.
Earlier this year the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) published a list of the UK’s Crash 4 Cash hotspots, with Birmingham topping the list as the place with the highest prevalence of this type of crime.
Ageas says its claims data reflects the IFB’s findings, with Birmingham among one of the top places where its customers have been targeted.
Leicester, Coventry, Nottingham, Sheffield and Harrow and Romford in London were also hotspots according to Ageas’ claims data.
Robin Challand, Claims Director at Ageas Insurance, says:
Lockdowns made it harder for Crash 4 Cash scammers to operate because with less traffic on the road it made it more difficult to disguise their actions. But as restrictions are lifted and road-use returns to more normal levels, that’s when we see these criminals start to re-emerge and put innocent motorists at risk by causing accidents. We’re urging motorists to be vigilant and be aware of some of the tell-tale signs of a scam.
Ageas says these can include:
- The other person driving erratically before the incident, including sharp braking for no reason
- The driver starting to move onto a roundabout and then stopping for no reason
- The driver suddenly turning right on a mini-roundabout, after appearing to be travelling straight over
- The driver encouraging you to pull out at a junction but then crashing into you
- The driver handing pre-written information straight after the accident
- The driver seemingly exaggerating their injuries
- The driver acting particularly unphased after the collision
- If the driver blames someone else who was driving erratically in front of them and has since driven off (this could be an example of the scammer using an accomplice)
- The rear passenger looking out the rear window (advising the driver when the vehicle behind is close)
We’ve been told of some instances where the scammers are quite aggressive after the accident; no doubt as a way of intimidating the victim and tricking them into acting so quickly that they don’t have time to question the events that have just happened.
Stephen Dalton, Head of Intelligence and Investigations at the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB), said:
As traffic levels continue to get back to normal, drivers should be cautious of ‘Crash for Cash’ scams on the road as fraudsters may sadly be looking to make up for lost time. It’s essential that drivers follow safe-driving guidelines to help prevent themselves from falling victim to this dangerous scam. In addition, if someone suspects they’ve seen a ‘Crash for Cash’ attempt it can be reported to our confidential and anonymous Cheatline online or on 0800 422 0421.
Ageas has shared its advice on what motorists should do if they think they’ve been involved in an induced accident:
- Don’t confront the other driver. They may be dangerous and in some cases Ageas has seen, they can act aggressively in order to intimidate their victims
- It’s important you still exchange details with the driver. It’s a legal offence not to. Provide your name, address, car registration and insurance details and make sure you get the same from them.
- Make a note of as much information as you can as quickly as you can after the accident before you forget. This could include information about the driver, any passengers, the circumstances of the collision. Pictures, dashcam footage and CCTV in the area are also useful.
- If there were any witnesses to the accident, get their details.
- Report the incident to the Police and tell your insurer. If you have a suspicion that it might have been an induced accident, report it to the Police and tell your insurer.
- Report it to Cheatline. The Insurance Fraud Bureau’s Cheatline allows members of the public to report insurance fraud free, anonymously and confidentially. You can call on 0800 422 0421 or visit www.insurancefraudbureau.org/cheatline
There are some steps motorists can take to avoid falling victim to these induced accidents. As well as being aware of what the tell-tale signs are, they should always keep a safe braking distance, be cautious when pulling out of side roads (especially if encouraged to by another driver) and remember to focus on the car as well as the brake lights as fraudsters often disable these to trick people into crashing.