Criminals deliberately cause accidents, then make bogus insurance claims, police warn.

Thousands of drivers are falling victim to criminal gangs who deliberately cause road crashes and then post excess insurance claims.

The criminals stage road accidents, often by overtaking motorists and then slamming on their brakes, so that the following driver hits their car. The crooks then submit fraudulent claims against the driver’s insurance for repairs and also for non-existent injuries, such as whiplash. When the payout comes, they just pocket the cash.

The Daily Mail’s web site reports today that the practice is run by a well-organised criminal network and is spreading rapidly, costing insurers an estimated £200m a year.

Police, working with investigators from the Insurance Fraud Bureau, have recently arrested gangs in London, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire who were running this scam.

Overall, motor insurance fraud costs £1.6bn a year, adding £50 to the cost of a typical policy.

Some of the ‘crashes’ involve cars which are both driven by criminals. But in other instances, motorists are offered a cut of the proceeds if they play along. In another twist, police uncovered a ruse where the boss of a breakdown company fraudulently charged insurers for towing cars from non-existent collisions.

Police advise drivers who think they have been targeted to call 999, to take photos and also to gather details of independent witnesses. Meanwhile, forces across the country are cracking down on such gangs.

Supt Glyn Jones of the Metropolitan Police said: ‘some people see this as a victimless crime but it isn’t. Criminal activity like this pushes up everyone’s premiums.’

Stephen Jury


August 11, 2008

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