Crash for cash at record levels
Guess what’s proving big in 2014? Nope, it's not the new John Lewis ad, it's that old chestnut, Crash for Cash. The practice, which often involves literally or figuratively packing a car with people and then deliberately getting hit from behind by a poor unsuspecting driver, is on the up, and the number of accidents staged in this way is currently at an all-time high. Big insurer Aviva claims that the levels of organised fraud are already 21% higher than in the whole of 2013, estimating that more than 50% of their fraudulent motor injury claims are being made by organised gangs, the costs of which have recently been estimated as adding £14 to every policy.
As it is the driver of the car behind that is deemed to be at fault in such collisions, the shady sorts will attempt to claim large sums in compensation for ‘whiplash’ caused by that driver that miraculously affects every single person crammed into the front vehicle. Scurrilous gangs will also target the vehicles most likely to have insurance and drivers least likely to cause a scene – which all too often means parents with children in the car or older drivers.
“Crash for cash is not just a financial problem – it’s a serious social problem. No other form of insurance fraud puts the public at risk of serious injury,” said Tom Gardiner, head of claims fraud for Aviva’s UK and Ireland general insurance business. “Last year Aviva found these accidents increased by 51%, and they are continuing to grow. Part of the growth is coming as fraudsters are moving away from a small number of hot spot locations to a much wider footprint.”
Previously, crash for cashing was confined to smaller areas, with the North and specifically Manchester being a particular favourite location. However, partly as a result of the number of successful prosecutions there, fraudsters have now moved on with Birmingham, Luton and north London now at the top of the list. Thanks Mancs.
One of the problems with whiplash is that it can be difficult to prove whether someone is actually suffering from it or not, leaving it particularly susceptible to fraudulent claims. Under new rules, insurance companies are being urged not to accept claims without a doctor’s report showing evidence of an injury. Aviva itself would rather the government change the rules so that minor whiplash claims are compensated with rehabilitation, rather than cash. We bet they would.
Nevertheless, something needs to change in order to protect the poor innocent bystanders used as a foil in the ploy to get free cash.“Insurers recognise that crash for cash is a serious issue that impacts not just on premiums but also on the safety of innocent motorists,” said a spokesman for the Association of British Insurers. “That is one of the reasons that insurers are investing over £200m in tackling fraud.”