Drivers should be wary of a tactic being used by some unscrupulous people in our community designed to scam car insurance companies.
Called Crash for Cash, fraudsters are targeting innocent motorists, putting their lives at risk by deliberately causing accidents with the intention of cashing in on the insurance policies of honest motorists.
As we know, where a nose to tail crash occurs, in most cases, the driver of the car behind is deemed to be at fault. So in Crash for Cash scams the aim is to deliberately stage or induce an accident for which the other (following) driver can be blamed.
The Automobile Association (AA) has drawn our attention to the scams and tell us that in the simplest scenario, a car may pull in front of you and brake sharply and suddenly giving you no chance to avoid going into the back of them.
Alternatively, they may appear to accelerate away from traffic lights or a roundabout normally only to brake sharply for no obvious reason.
In other examples drivers have reported a car in front slamming on the brakes suddenly when approaching a pedestrian crossing – even though the road ahead was completely clear and there were no pedestrians near or on the crossing.
There have been reports of fraudsters going so far as to disconnect the brake lights on their vehicle so that following vehicles have even less chance of stopping in time to avoid the collision.
Worryingly, gangs are believed to be targeting vehicles most likely to have insurance and drivers least likely to cause a scene so mums with children in the car, older drivers and owners of well-maintained cars may all be at higher risk.
So how do you avoid being a victim of Crash for Cash? The AA advises that you should:
- Look well ahead trying to anticipate possible hazards at all times
- Allow plenty of space to the car in front at all times but particularly at junctions and pedestrian crossings
- Be particularly wary of a vehicle in front driving erratically or slowing down for no apparent reason
- If you suspect that the brake lights may not be working on the car in front keep well out of their way
- Never assume that flashing headlights is a signal inviting you to proceed. Use your own judgement and proceed carefully
- Do not assume, when waiting at a junction that a vehicle coming from the right and signalling left will actually turn. Wait and make sure
If you’ve been involved in a collision that you suspect may have been deliberately induced:
- Don’t admit liability for anything at the scene
- It is best not to challenge the other driver directly with your suspicions
- Take written notes – what happened, descriptions of the other driver and any passengers, what’s said etc.
- Take as many photographs as possible, discreetly if you can, of the general scene and the damage to both vehicles
- Insist on calling the police (the fraudster may well back off) and tell them of your suspicions when you do so
- Check for independent witnesses – but be aware that gangs can plant witnesses as part of the scam
- Report the incident to your insurer as soon as possible, and tell them about your suspicions