Automotive insurance fraud is quickly becoming one of the biggest criminal problems in our country. A down economy significantly contributes to amount of people willing to risk a criminal conviction or and injury for the chance at an insurance payout. Many automotive insurance scammers use tactics like vehicle arson to file a claim for a totaled vehicle. Others, however, risk their lives and the lives of other motorists by staging car accidents.
The insurance fraud criminals can work in groups to stage multifaceted and dangerous vehicle crashes. The more complex the accident seems, the less likely it will seem staged to claims adjusters or the police. Here are a few tactics these criminals use to defraud insurance agencies and put innocent people in harm’s way:
The Side Swipe
This type of accident is most prevalent at a bustling intersection with two left turning lanes. The unsuspecting victim will drift into the outer-most left turning lane where the other participant’s vehicle is already positioned. The criminal will side swipe the victim, causing damage and a serious hazard to innocent motorists. At a busy intersection, this collision may look like an accident, but the police and insurance agencies have come to recognize the telltale signs of a staged side swipe.
The Swoop and Squat
This type of fraudulent accident involves three cars, one of them being an unsuspecting victim. One criminal driver, or the “squat” car, will drive in front of the victim. The other criminal in the “swoop” car, will come up from behind, pass both cars then abruptly cut off the squat car. The criminal in the squat car will slam on his brakes, usually causing the victim to slam into the back of the squat car. The swoop car drives off, leaving the squat car and the victim to tell the police that the car that drove off caused the accident. The driver of the squat car may fake an injury to collect injury insurance money as well. The victim will then be responsible for the damage and any personal injury claims.
The Brake Check
Otherwise known as the panic stop, the brake check involves a car load of criminals driving in front of a victim. One of the passengers in the back seat will look out the rear window for any signs of distraction on the part of the victim driver. When the victim looks away to change the radio station or answer a cell phone, the driver of the criminal vehicle will slam on his brakes, causing the victim to crash into the back of him. Because it is a rear-end accident, the victim is usually the one who will have to pay for damages, including the faked injuries of all the criminals in the car.
You can avoid becoming a victim of insurance fraud criminals by maintaining a safe distance between you and other motorists. Accidents like these, even staged ones, are the result of traveling too closely to other vehicles. If you drive safely, you can be sure you won’t be the victim of these dangerous and fraudulent tactics.