What is Vehicle Insurance Fraud
Vehicle insurance fraud takes place when an unscrupulous individual or a group of individuals working in concert take certain actions in order to stage automobile collisions and then make false or exaggerated claims to an insurance company regarding the injuries suffered or the damage that has occured in order to obtain benefits or insurance money to which they are not lawfully entitled. The Insurance Research Council estimates that as many as one in three vehicle accidents these days have some degree of fraud or exaggeration. There are numerous types of auto insurance scams perpetrated across the country in order to defraud automobile insurance carriers.
Many rear-end collisions are not the result of slippery roads but actually are staged by two drivers who manage to block a third driver in by one car pulling in front and the other alongside. When the first car stops suddenly, the driver in the third car already hemmed in cannot avoid colliding and a swoop and squat fraud occurs. Another popular staged move is the drive down, when a driver waves to a second driver to allow him to merge into traffic, then intentionally speeds up and hits him, claiming he never motioned for the second driver to move into his lane. The start and stop scam occurs when a driver in front of another vehicle starts to inch forward, then stops suddenly, causing the driver in the car behind to slam into his vehicle. Sideswiping is another popular way that accidents are staged, occuring at intersections featuring two left turn lanes. One car intentionally sideswipes the victim’s vehicle, then claims that it was the victim’s car that crossed the center line.
Defensive Driving Matters
No matter who seems to be at fault after an auto accident, ask for police help and make an official report in order to have a permanent record of what actually happened. This way, scam artists cannot claim to have suffered major damage when their vehicle was merely bumped. Get the names and addresses of all passengers in the other car, including the driver, to avoid having phantom passengers claim injuries from your insurance company or an entirely different person than was present claim to be the person who was driving. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible after exchanging information with the other driver. Many times insurance investigators can ferret out staged accidents or drivers who are making fraudulent reports because they are trained to recognize suspicious claims of injury or damage.
Keep Good Records
Taking photos with a digital camera or your cellphone of any alleged damage is a good idea to help insurance investigators determine what has truly happened during an automobile accident. Ask for the names of any witnesses who may have seen what occured and report it to your insurance company. Often an insurance company will hire a private investigator to uncover fraudulent claims or discover that an individual who claimed a whiplash injury in a vehicle accident is playing tennis, submitted a phony medical report from a fictitious doctor or padded a repair bill to include items not a direct result of an accident.