Picture yourself pulling out of a parallel parking spot alongside the road after going on lunch break at your favorite restaurant. You get in your car, check to make sure no one is behind you, and start pulling out. Out of nowhere, a car switches lanes at the last second, crashing into the back of your car. As the unsuspecting victim, you are shaken up and immediately pick up your phone to dial the police. However, you notice the other person doesn’t appear to be shaken up at all, almost as though they planned the whole thing beforehand.
Of course, the accident was planned, and the crooks are about to cash in on the insurance money, making the claim that it was your fault.
How to Avoid
To avoid this type of accident, check your side mirror far into the distance to make sure no one is behind you or in any of the other lanes near you. Only pull out if there is no chance someone could hit you even if they switched lanes.
If you want to be extra cautious, choose a parking spot in a parking lot rather than on the street where your car is vulnerable to being hit by other drivers.
After the Fact
If an accident like this does happen, make sure to get all the information and call your insurance company as soon as it happens. The sooner they get the other person’s name and license plate number, the sooner they can start looking into the person’s background to see if they have a history of insurance fraud.
If you notice witnesses coming up immediately after the crime, telling you to go to a certain doctor or auto repair shop, beware because they are most likely part of the carefully planned out scheme to ensure the crooks can collect even more than just the insurance money. The doctors or repair shops they recommend will bill you for much more than the medical procedure was actually worth, and auto repair shops will do the same. Or, they will put a used part on your car and then bill your insurance company for a new one. After the accident, pay attention to your insurance reports and records – if you notice something that doesn’t fit with the details of the accident, make sure to point it out to your insurance provider immediately.
Also, if you notice anyone else that witnessed the crime, ask them to represent you in court if necessary. Most of the time, these accidents happen in front of people walking near businesses or in residential areas. They can help you in this case if you need real witnesses. Police can also examine tire tracks and the damage on the cars to determine who is really at fault. It’s becoming increasingly harder for these criminals to get away with auto insurance fraud, and since many of these rings have been uncovered in the past ten years, insurance companies and police know what to look for.
In Louisville, Kentucky, nineteen people were indicted for these types of crimes, and were part of a large, organized ring that crashed rented vehicles into unsuspecting vehicles to get upwards of $100,000 in some cases. There was an ongoing investigation for three years before all the perpetrators were caught. The investigators on the case believe there might be even more arrests in relation to the case.
While these types of crimes are becoming more widespread, it’s harder for people to carry out the crimes without being caught. In almost all cases, injuries and damage is minor, but the people who caused the accident must embellish the details in order to get more insurance money. Fraudulent claims can easily be detected by law enforcement now, but you must always keep your eyes open on the road, and try to keep a reasonable distance from other drivers. The perpetrators are very clever and can strike without any prior notice.
Keep in mind that not only can a staged accident cause serious injury to you, but if the fraud goes undetected, the cost of your automobile insurance will also rise dramatically due to an at-fault accident being added to your record.
InsuranceCrime (Apr 14, 2011) – “Staged Car Accidents – Curb Drive Down Fraud”