Crash for Cash: A Big Problem with an Easy Solution

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By guest Charlotte Waller of the Car Camera Shop : www.carcamerashop.co.uk

'Crash for Cash' has been much in the headlines recently.  This fraudulent practice is on the increase, and innocent motorists are being affected.  It's something that we all need to be aware of, not least because of  the knock-on effect of a rise in our insurance premiums. 

A quick search of the #CrashforCash hashtag on Twitter or a quick browse of YouTube can yield some pretty terrifying results. Crash for Cash is a multi-million pound business for fraudsters, BUT a lot is being done and fantastic comparison sites such as CareandCompare.com are doing their part to help spread the word.
 
The Car Camera Shop has prepared a short FAQ, detailing the fraud, what’s being done about it and what we can do about it below.

What is Crash for Cash?

The definition of Crash for Cash is “To stage or deliberately cause a road traffic collision solely for the purpose of financial gain”.
 
For example:
1.    you follow a car driving at normal speed towards a zebra crossing;
2.    the car in front stops suddenly, despite there being no need to and no pedestrians on the crossing;
3.    boom! – You crash.
 
Scam complete.
 
There are three main types of Crash for Cash fraud:
1) two cars are used by the criminals to mimic the effects of a crash away from the public eye using tools such as hammers,
2) criminals induce an accident as described above, and
3) criminals don’t even bother crashing the cars – they use a paper trail instead to submit fictional claims.
 
Additionally, criminals  try and claim tens of thousands of pounds for bogus passengers' claims - personal injury, loss of earnings, vehicle recovery, vehicle damage and vehicle storage.

When did the practice start?

The sad news is that it’s always been around, but a marked increase in recent years has meant the IFB (Insurance Fraud Bureau) was created in 2006.

Who is involved?

What’s scary is that professional criminal gangs run this fraud, and it’s not just one or two individuals either. Compared with the jail time for drug offences and the relatively low risk of getting caught, coupled with the high reward, Crash for Cash is an attractive option to criminals. Insurance claims are not taxable, Crash for Cash won’t be as high profile as say, an armed robbery, and if they are caught, criminals aren’t in possession of anything illegal, making prosecution more tricky.
 
These gangs can be large – they’ll be a group that conducts the fraud, the “witnesses” will be gang members, they’ll submit additional fake injury claims and dupe or corrupt professionals in helping them to present what looks like a genuine claim. They’re organised and have the whole supply chain covered. 

How many cases have been recorded?

There are a number of statistics available, however one from the Association of British Insurers states that:
 
Each day insurers uncover 381 fraudulent insurance claims worth more than £2.7 million. That’s 2,670 fraudulent claims a week costing honest customers £1 billion a year. But that is only the tip of the iceberg. We estimate that there is a further £2 billion of undetected fraud – all of which is adding an extra £50 to the annual household insurance bill.
 
‘Crash for Cash’ frauds alone cost the industry £392 million each year. We welcome this report from the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) with its thorough analysis of this costly, unacceptable crime”.
 
Source: IFB Report

What is the effect on increased insurance premiums?

It’s significant – honest policyholders hand over an average of £50 of their annual bill. 

What are public and private bodies are doing about it?

This is the positive part – a lot is being done! The insurance industry spends in excess of £200 million per year on controls and counter-fraud.
 
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) report that insurers uncovered 139,000 dishonest claims worth nearly £1 billion last year.
 
In addition, there are four key departments tasked with stopping fraud:
·         Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department;
·         Insurance Fraud Bureau;
·         Insurance Fraud Register;
·         Cheatline.

What can motorists reasonably do to protect themselves?

For obvious reasons we recommend getting a car camera!  Although this incurs a cost, some of the cameras from The Car Camera Shop cost less than £50.
 
Additionally, you can report the fraud using the Cheatline (this is powered by Crimestoppers) on 0800 422 0421.
 
The IFB is always happy to help on their Twitter page - @TheIFB.
 
Also, (this has not been verified by any organisation) we believe, that aside from staying vigilant on the road, driving and parking where CCTV is visible may also act as a deterrent for criminals and help catch them in the act.
 
Finally, although not a Crash for Cash scenario, we have a reminder that even 'Hit and Runs', or in this case, 'Park and Drives' can occur anytime, at any place… check out what one of our very own dash cams caught on video!
 
Car Park Crash and Run!
 
A massive thank you to CareandCompare.com for helping us to spread the word on Crash for Cash.  Check out our infographic below for more information.

Crash for Cash infographic
 
Visit the Car Camera Shop to see the full range of products and find some great deals: www.carcamerashop.co.uk