January 16th, 2020 at 9:50 am
Crash for cash, its the oldest trick in the book, deliberately create an accident and then claim under the insurance. Did you know that Aviva, the insurer, named Birmingham as their ‘crash for cash capital’ as more than 25% of fraudulent claims made to them surrounded accidents and incidents which occurred in this city?
Perhaps a development of the easy money to be made by claiming after an accident and the proliferation of companies only too happy to act on claimants’ behalf, research by moneysupermarket.com has revealed that many motorists have considered staging a road traffic accident in order to claim on their insurance and make a quick buck. 340,000 people admitted in the survey that they had already done this and been successful.
The implications are immense. Not only do you risk both your own life and that of the innocent third party but you could end up causing a fatality. The rise in claims and payouts impacts on all motorists who end up paying higher premiums across the board as a result. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) says the total cost of fraudulent claims adds £40 to the cost of each annual motor policy.
The Insurance Fraud Bureau (IBF) has provided a helpful list of clues and warning signs to help drivers recognise a possibly fake accident and fraudulent claim and advice on how to adjust their behaviour accordingly.
- Typical driving behaviour associated with a fraudulent accident include a car speeding away from traffic lights or a roundabout only to stop dead for no apparent reason
- Braking at a pedestrian crossing or other location where there is no discernible reason
- The other motorist is very calm despite the accident
- Insurance details are apparently ready to hand
- Injuries do not seem commensurate with the type or force of the accident
- Dash cams can provide vital evidence as the most common form of crash for cash scam is a car braking sharply in front of another vehicle so that the second car crashes into the rear of the first one. Some fraudsters even go so far as disconnecting their brake lights so you get absolutely no warning. A dash cam will offer footage of the manner and style of the driver before the crash occurs. It will show any irregularities and whether or not the brake lights are working or not as well as filming the actual accident
- Fraudsters tend to avoid areas that are busy with potential witnesses so not a town street and also where there is no CCTV footage
- Always give the car in front plenty of room, tailgating is a bad habit and could land you in some genuine hot water
- Allow the car in front plenty of time and space at junctions
- If you feel the driver in front is behaving erratically then keep your distance, indicators of something amiss include slowing down for no apparent reason
- If you suspect the car in front has zero brake lights then keep a very healthy distance or take a different route
- If you are waiting at a junction for a vehicle to turn, never assume it will do so
In simple terms, fraudsters tend to target drivers who they know won’t make a fuss or cause a scene. So, a newly passed young driver or a mother with small children in the vehicle makes for an ideal target.
Flash for cash
A variation on a theme. A fraudster flashes his headlights at you to indicate you can pull out from a turning or junction before speeding up and hitting you. It’s easy to claim that you just pulled out without looking as it becomes your word against his. A dash cam can be unhelpful if you have a basic model that does not have a wide-angled lens and so only captures the road directly in front of you and not a picture to the side which can record the behaviour of the other driver just before the accident occurs.
What to do in the event of a crash
- Remain calm and even though it is human nature, do not apologise or admit any liability
- Treat the incident as a genuine accident and keep your suspicions to yourself
- Make sure you save your dash cam footage and if necessary, take photos of the crash site
- Call the police, you don’t have to call the police if there are no injuries but insist on calling them anyway if you suspect fraudulent activity
- Try and record the identity of any witnesses
What is the motor industry doing about insurance fraud?
Apart from remaining in a state of high vigilance and alertness, the motor insurance industry has been particularly heartened by the UK government’s proposed intervention via the Civil Liability Bill. This soon to be statute proposes to put a ceiling on the good old whiplash claim; this is the most common soft tissue injury after an accident and almost impossible to disprove. Claimants will be required to provide medical evidence. Rather cleverly, the bill also proposes increasing the minimum value for personal injury claims incurred in a road accident and heading to Court up from £2,000 to £5,000. The effect of this is that lower value claims will have to go through the small claims court and as claimants can’t claim back the cost of legal representation, this will hopefully weed out and deter those fraudsters who make multiple fraudulent small soft tissue injury claims.
Despite the number of accident claims falling in the last decade, personal injury claims from road traffic accidents are 50% higher than in 2009. The government sees this as being driven by a number of factors, what they describe as ‘predatory parts of the claims industry’ so ‘no win no fee’ companies, commonly referred to as ‘ambulance chasers’. But the ‘crash for cash’ element is also a factor in these statistics and one which the government is determined to challenge.
Dash cams, should you have one and what does the law say (could save you from crash for cash!)
Dash cams, everyone seems to have one nowadays, surely they are a good idea? They can protect you against fraudulent crash for cash claims, provide very useful footage in the event of an accident so why would you not want to have one?
How do dash cams work?
Dash cams are usually forward-facing and record all of your journey. The film is split into files, usually around 1-3 minutes in duration. The oldest file is automatically deleted to make way for the latest recording on a revolving basis. All you have to do is to remember to click, ‘save’ when you want to keep some footage and this will not automatically be sent to the trash bin.
What does the law say?
Fitting a dash cam in your car is perfectly legal. But, and this is a big but, you must install the cam so that it does not in any way obstruct your view of the road. There are a lot of regulations surrounding driver vision – eye test requirements and sight parameters, MOT failures for windscreen stone chips within the driver’s line of sight, windscreen wipers failing to sufficiently clear the windscreen in wet weather, the list goes on. As part of that unbreachable standard, a dash cam must not be deemed to impede the driver’s view. If the police find a dash cam in your vehicle that is interfering with your vision of the road then you can be fined. And, any footage taken from the camera to be used in a court case, may be deemed inadmissible as the camera it is taken from is effectively illegal. The Highway Code has the last word and explains that any object cannot be placed more than 40mm into the area swept clean by the windscreen wipers.
Evidence in Court
Footage gathered by a dash cam is admissible in UK courts and can make the difference in a road traffic incident where there are no witnesses. The police do not have to be present at the time of the alleged offence, the footage can be shown to them later on. The usual rules of evidence apply so, for instance, the vehicle must be clearly identifiable from the footage so the number plate must be easily visible.
The national dash cam safety portal is just that, a gateway whereby motorists can easily and quickly submit dash cam footage to the relevant authorities. This clever idea came to market in 2018, launched, unsurprisingly by a dash cam manufacturer, Nextbase, working alongside constabularies throughout England and Wales. Easy to use, just head to their UK map and click on the county where the incident occurred and then follow the geographical links which, in turn, tie you in with regional constabularies. In effect what you are doing, is filing a police report.
Trial by social media
A popular way to embarrass someone who has been caught on dash cam footage doing something they shouldn’t and often an alternative to taking the matter to the police. But do be awareof privacy laws or you could find yourself in hot water.
Filming your friends
Some dash cam both films and records sound inside the vehicle. If you carry passengers, then they must be made aware that you have a dash cam fitted that is filming them or you can breach privacy laws. A good example of this is a taxi driver, many of whom have a dash cam fitted to record internal passengers for their own safety and protection.
How to choose a good dash cam
- Quality of recording is paramount when choosing a dash cam otherwise you may just find that your footage is simply not clear enough and is light on key details such as the registration plate of the vehicle. Some cheap models create a film which is grainy and unclear, even blurry. The film may be clear at low speed but what is the quality at higher speeds?
- Field of vision is crucial, if you are confined to a simply a narrow view of the road ahead then you may find that the camera has not captured enough detail, always aim for a dash cam with a wide-angle lens. Better models offer a field of vision of 160 or 170 degrees
- Fitting a dash cam can lower your insurance premiums
- Does the dash cam automatically save footage following a detection of a sudden change in speed in the vehicle? This can be very useful in situations where you are too occupied or worse still, injured, to hit the ‘save ‘ button
- If the dash cam has a built-in screen then make sure it has an automatic turn off after you have been driving for a few seconds. It is illegal for a driver to have any video playing camera devices on whilst driving although there are a few exceptions to this such as the rear-facing camera used to assist when parking. A screen makes it easier to angle the camera for when you are driving and also to change the settings
- Aim for a camera mounted with suction pads rather than adhesive as the former are much easier to move around should you wish to change the positioning of the camera
- Look out for five-star functionality, driver fatigue alerts and speed camera warnings
- Does the dash cam have GPS which can record your location and the speed you are driving at, very useful in the event of an accident or dispute with a traffic policeman?
- Is there smartphone connectivity so you can easily download and share relevant files? Otherwise, you are looking at transferring data to a USB and then onto a laptop, a little laborious
- Do you want a rear-facing camera as well as a front-mounted camera? Many dash cams are now sold in pairs
- Some models are designed to be used in left hand rather than right-hand drive vehicles depending on the location of origin of the manufacturer. This is not a deal-breaker but you may find the fittings and controls more suited to someone sitting in the passenger seat and this can be a little frustrating
Dash cams are the latest driving accessory with a range of products on the market to suit different tastes and budgets. Dash cam footage could be the deciding factor in an accident or incident and it may also save you money on your annual insurance costs.