Believe it or not, there are some people out there who actively try to get hit by oncoming traffic. Some pedestrians will run towards a slow-moving vehicle and bounce dramatically off the hood. Others will fall right in front of a stopped vehicle and feign injury. Some drivers even do abrupt stops for no apparent reasons, these are called “crash-for-cash”. Fraudsters often disable their brake lights to make it easier to cause an accident. A dash cam can record the incident and help you avoid penalties in court if someone tries to engage you in an insurance scam.
Crash-for-cash scams continue to hike premiums as insurers are forced to pay out on fraudulent claims. But an increasing number are being stopped, thanks to dash cam footages.
The Insurance Fraud Bureau advises if you notice any of the following triggers, it may be a sign that someone is trying to scam you with a traffic accident:
The other driver being uncharacteristically calm for someone that’s just been involved in a car accident
The driver having already written down their insurance details prior to the accident
Any claimed injuries appearing to be completely at odds with the force of the impact
Know the signs
Crash for cash scammers choose their victims carefully – they keep an eye out for drivers who look like they would be fully insured but be less likely to cause a fuss. Mothers with children on board and the elderly are favored victims. If you've been a victim, the circumstances are likely to be as follows.
A car in front of you slams on the brakes for no obvious reason, and you have no time to react and collide with the car in front. Another scenario (known as ‘flash for cash’) happens when a driver flashes their lights at a junction to let you out, then crashes into you deliberately.
The other driver will insist the accident is your fault. The scammer will then hand over their insurance details – sometimes already prepared and written down.
A few weeks after the accident your insurers will write to you with details of the other driver’s claim which will be exaggerated with costs like car hire, recovery and whiplash injuries.
Avoid the scam
To avoid being a victim, the following precautions may help.
Keep an eye out ahead for possible hazards at all times and look out for erratic, unpredictable drivers. Remember to leave plenty of braking space between you and the car in front.
Look out for drivers or passengers who seem to be paying attention to the vehicle behind them, it could also be a sign they are planning to cause an accident.
Beware of the flash
Do not assume that if a driver flashes their headlights that it's safe to pull out – use your own judgement and proceed carefully. Do not put too much faith in another driver's indicator.
Invest in a dash cam
Dashcams are perfect for capturing Crash For Cash attempts and proving your case to the police and insurers. Despite being early-adopters of the technology, dashcams are being used against cyclists, too. Most models also have GPS, so you can prove exactly where an incident happened. They’re largely available with replacement cover, and of course, SD cards can easily expand the device’s storage.