You might be worried about ‘fake news’, but it’s ‘fake’ road crashes that are more likely to have an impact on your life and finances.
‘Crash-for-cash’ scams, whereby one motorist deliberately crashes into another, are a serious problem on our roads. It’s been estimated there are 30,000 such incidents every year.
What is ‘crash-for-crash’?
A ‘crash-for-cash’ driving incident usually involves a driver deliberately luring another into ‘mistakenly’ driving into their car.
The standard way is for a car to brake so sharply that the car behind can’t avoid ploughing into the back of it. This often happens on the approach to pedestrian crossings or traffic lights.
Another common approach is to flash a car wanting to pull out into a busy road, then deliberately speed up to bash into the side of it.
Scammers induce a crash, and ask for cash
The scammer then asks for, or in some cases aggressively demands, cash. They know that in most cases insurers will find against any car that has driven into the back of one in front or impeding another by pulling out in front of it.
The victim may pay up for fear of losing their no claims bonus and their premiums going up. Or they may have a level of excess whereby they think making a claim is pointless.
The scammer may also go through the claims process in the hope of receiving compensation for whiplash, a condition which is notoriously hard for insurers to prove against (although they have clamped down in recent years). Such claims can be worth thousands.
What you should do at the scene of the accident
If you suspect you’ve been a victim of a ‘crash-for-cash’ scam, never admit liability, and refuse to pay cash at the scene.
Don’t mention your suspicions and take down as many details about the driver and car involved as possible. Take pictures if you can and write notes and draw plans of the incident.
Immediately report the incident to the police (as with any crash involving another vehicle), and also contact your own insurer.
How to avoid becoming a victim
Sadly, if a crash-for-cash scammer is determined enough, there isn’t a great deal another motorist can do.
However, being aware that such drivers are out there is half the battle. It means you can be hyper-aware when travelling in bumper-to-bumper traffic, or if a car flashes you to pull out, or, indeed, pass in front of them to drive down a side road.
Avoidance depends largely on simply driving well. The Automobile Association (AA) recommends leaving plenty of space between you and car in front.
Make note of any vehicles around you driving poorly and erratically, or occasionally slowing down for no reason. The same applies to poorly maintained and obviously damaged vehicles.
If a car flashes you to move in front of it, again, be very aware of your circumstances and ready to take avoidance measures if necessary.
Key advice: Fit a dash cam!
One great piece of advice is to use modern technology and fit a dash cam device so you can record all your road trips and have clear proof, if needed, of any incidents.
The customer service team at Policy Expert is always on hand to help – either online or over the phone. Whether you want assistance in finding the right policy or even handling a claim, we make sure it’s all handled by experts. For more information, you can call our experts on 0330 0600 600 or visit www.policyexpert.co.uk/contact for more ways to reach us.
23 November 2017