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Fraud involving staged or induced road accidents is becoming increasingly common. Research by the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) indicates that from 1999 to 2006, more than 22,500 staged and induced motor accidents took place in the UK. The IFB estimates the cost of motor fraud at £1.5 billion per year.
Staged accidents are frequently referred to as ‘cash for crash' or ‘slam ons'. Fraudsters drive to busy roundabouts, road junctions, or slip roads and then perform unexpected and unnecessary emergency stops designed to cause innocent members of the public to crash into them.
Claims are made to the innocent motorist's insurer, often including several accounts of fictitious injuries from members of the criminal gang. For each successful scam, the criminals can net up to £30,000 and the IFB has evidence to show that proceeds from this type of fraud are used to fund other forms of serious and organised criminal activity.
Whilst all motorists can be potential innocent victims of ‘slam ons' business vehicles are often targeted because insurance backing is more assured.
In addition to own damage repair costs, not covered by insurance, other hidden costs of staged accidents include vehicle down time, lost productivity resulting from injury to drivers, time penalties being incurred due to late or non delivery of goods, to name but a few. Furthermore the number and cost of accidents has a direct bearing on motor insurance premiums
How to reduce the risk of being involved in a staged accident
• Proceed with caution when approaching roundabouts. Do not look for a gap in the traffic on the roundabout until you are at the give way line. Then ensure the path immediately in front is clear, before pulling onto the roundabout.
• Watch your speed when approaching roundabouts, junctions and slip roads. Just sticking to the speed limit and maintaining a realistic safety gap from the vehicle in front will help reduce the risk of accident.
• Be vigilant when driving and maintain awareness of surroundings at all times. Do not assume that other drivers will always act rationally.
• The best weapon is driving defensively. Always drive at such a speed that you can pull up safely within the distance you can see to be clear.
What are the indicators that an accident may have been staged?
• The vehicle in front involved in the collision does not stop at the scene of the accident, but drives on. The driver subsequently returns on foot to the scene of the accident. This may be done to prevent:
- visual inspection of the damage to the fraudster's vehicle and/or
- ascertaining the number and identity of passengers (if any) present in the vehicle.
• The other driver of the vehicle involved in the collision appears well prepared with written details of their name, address and insurer ready to provide to you.
• Witnesses appear from nowhere and corroborate your liability for the accident.
• The vehicle in front (with which you have just collided) does not show any signs of stopping e.g. brake lights not being illuminated.
What to do if you think you may have been involved in a staged accident?
• In any accident, staged or otherwise, the standard advice to drivers is not to admit liability at the scene of the accident. The basic rule of thumb is that it is ok to say sorry, but don't admit fault - you may well not be.
• Do not confront the other party or take any action that you feel might place you at risk
• Call the Police from the scene and report the accident. Invite the other driver to remain with you until the Police arrive.
• Be vigilant at the scene and aim to:
- Count the number of occupants in the other vehicle
- If possible, ask for the names and addresses of all people present, including any reported witnesses, together with the make, model and registration of the vehicle you have collided with, and also establish who the owner of the third party vehicle is (hire car?)
- Note the insurance details of the driver of the other vehicle, ensuring if possible that it is recorded by you from what the other person tells you, not by asking them to write it down
- If possible make a mental note of any distinguishing features of the driver/passengers. This could be useful evidentially in disproving subsequent insurance frauds.
- Take photographs if you are able to do so without confrontation.
- Record details of the location and extent of damage to the other car, the more detail, the better.
Most importantly, report the incident to you insurer as quickly as possible making any concerns that you may have known.
If you would like to find out more about developing your own health and safety policies and procedures, why not complete our eTraining modules Health and Safety for Managers and Driving Safety.
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This document contains general information and guidance and is not and should not be relied on as specific advice. The document may not cover every risk, exposure or hazard that may arise and Aviva recommend that you obtain specific advice relevant to the circumstances. AVIVA accepts no responsibility or liability towards any person who may rely upon this document.
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