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UK: Organised gangs drive increase in crash for cash

Deliberate accidents at all-time high as Aviva highlights worst-affected areas for crash for cash


Crash for cash – road traffic accidents deliberately caused in order to claim whiplash compensation – is now at the highest level ever detected by Aviva, the UK’s largest insurer.

Organised gangs are at the heart of the increase in the number of these induced accidents. So far this year, Aviva has seen a 21% increase in organised fraud over 2013, contributing to the record number of fraudulent motor claims. More than 50% of Aviva’s motor injury claims fraud is now organised in nature and the insurer now has over 6,500 suspicious injury claims linked to known fraud rings.

Regional Hotspots

The latest view from Aviva of where organised gangs induce motor accidents reveals Birmingham and Greater London are the UK’s crash for cash hotspots*. In the past, the northwest – particularly Manchester – has been the focal point for crash for cash activity. However, a number of successful operations and prosecutions in that area, as well as the expansion of organised fraud in other areas of the UK, is changing that picture.

Top 10 Postcodes for Crash for Cash by number of accidents:

  1. Birmingham (B)
  2. Luton (LU)
  3. North London (N)
  4. Manchester (M)
  5. Leeds (LS)
  6. Uxbridge (UB)
  7. Harrow (HA)
  8. North West London (NW)
  9. Bradford (BD)
  10. Slough (IG)

View the Top 10 Crash for Cash hotspots map PDF (0.79MB)

To combat the rapid growth of crash for cash, Aviva is asking the Government to look at treating minor whiplash injuries with rehabilitation, instead of cash compensation. Aviva believes this would remove the motivation for fraudsters to deliberately cause accidents in order to make a claim, as well as protect innocent motorists and help keep premiums low for customers.

Tom Gardiner, Head of Claims Fraud for Aviva’s UK and Ireland General Insurance business, said, “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.

“Imagine you’re driving the kids to school when the car in front slams on their brakes without warning, leaving you no chance of avoiding a crash. These deliberate accidents are on the increase, putting innocent motorists at risk simply so the driver in front can get cash compensation. 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.

“The fight against fraud begins with an effective deterrent. In addition to more prosecutions and stronger sentences, we need to remove the financial incentive for minor whiplash claims like those claimed for by serial crash for cash fraudsters. We are asking the Government to consider compensating short-term whiplash with rehabilitation, instead of cash. Would crash for cash exist if there was no money in it? We don’t think so.”

Crash for cash not only threatens motorists’ safety, but also their pockets, adding an estimated £400 million to the cost of car insurance – or around £14 on every motor insurance premium**.  Fraudulent motor claims in Birmingham postcodes detected by Aviva totalled more than £4.7m through August this year. This can influence premiums in the Birmingham area, and is one of the reasons why Aviva is committed to fighting this reckless form of fraud – to reduce customer premiums.

Gardiner continued, “We are urging motorists to remain alert to crash for cash, especially in those areas where we know this is a problem. As our data shows, innocent motorists are put at an increasing risk from professional fraudsters which is why we’ve published*** advice to motorists to help them prevent getting caught up in this dangerous act.”

- Ends -

Notes to Editors:

*Based on the number of crash for cash claims detected by Aviva from January – August, 2014
**Insurance Fraud Bureau says crash for cash costs £392m per year
***Motorist advice: see below

Motorist Advice:

How to minimise the risk of being targeted by the cash for crash fraudsters:

  • Stay alert: Pay attention to your driving and the cars/traffic around you
  • Keep your distance: Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the one in front. 
  • Roundabouts and slip roads: fraudsters target roundabouts and slip roads to induce accidents; be especially vigilant in these areas, allowing plenty of space
  • Two cars ahead: there are frequently two cars involved in inducing an accident – the car directly in front and the car in front of that car as well. Both may drive erratically. Allow plenty of space between you and the two cars in front.
  • Check the brake lights: A common trait in many vehicles involved in ‘crash for cash’ is failure of the vehicle’s brake lights. If you notice the car in front brakes and their lights don’t work, remain cautious, allow extra space between you and the vehicle, and perhaps distance your car from theirs.
  • Warning signs: Is the car in front moving particularly slowly or is it slowing down and speeding up for no apparent reason?
  • Driver Behaviour: If the driver in front is focusing on the back of the vehicle, that could be a sign they are looking for an opportunity to induce an accident
  • Passenger Behaviour: Are the passengers in the vehicle in front turning around and looking at you for no reason? They may be looking for a chance to induce an accident.
  • Collision Damage: Does the car in front look like it has been in other accidents – especially showing damage to its rear?

What to do if you are in an accident and are suspicious it may be fraudulent:

  • Stay calm. Don’t argue with the driver of the other vehicle and/or their passengers.
  • Call the Police immediately while you are still at the scene of the accident, inform them you suspect the accident is a cash for crash scam and ask them to attend the scene
  • Don’t admit liability to the other driver, passenger or anyone else that appears to be connected to them at the scene of the accident. Don’t agree to liability in writing, either.
  • Capture as much information as possible at the scene:
  • the make, model and registration number of the other vehicle
  • the time, date, location and weather conditions at the time of the accident
  • the full name, address, date of birth and gender of the driver and passengers
  • the number of passengers in the other vehicle, including where they were sat in the vehicle immediately after the accident
  • take pictures or video, capturing any damage (or lack thereof) to the other vehicle and the scene of the accident
  • whether the driver of the other vehicle or any of their passengers are complaining of being injured and also if no one is complaining of being injured
  • was the driver reading from a document when dealing with you? Were they overly prepared – did they have a document with their details already recorded?
  • how the other vehicle left the scene of the accident (e.g. driven or towed away). If towed or transported away, make a note of the vehicle and registration number of the vehicle that took the car away, including whether it displayed any business name
  • the names and addresses of any independent witnesses

Contact your insurer immediately after the accident to advise them of your suspicions and to provide them with all the information you have recorded. Keep a record of the information you supply to your insurer in case it is needed in the future.

About Aviva

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