CRASH FOR CASH SCAMS COST US ALL ?
Watch out if youíre driving in Bradford, Blackburn or Oldham and be careful in Liverpool, Huddersfield, Birmingham and Bolton.
In fact be on your guard in Halifax, Luton and Uxbridge in Middlesex as these 10 towns and cities are the danger zones for so-called crash for cash scams.
Motor insurers are gearing up for a crackdown on fraudsters who deliberately cause crashes with other motorists so they can make massively inflated claims.
The Insurance Fraud Bureau estimates crash for cash scams cost every motorist around ? a year each in extra charges on their car insurance.
The technical term for crash for cash is ìinduced accidents” and fraudsters use a series of underhand tactics to force others to crash into them and then make bogus claims.
Watch out for sudden braking
Typically crash for cash fraudsters will brake suddenly when coming off a motorway junction so that the driver behind them smashes into the back of their car.
In some cases they will even deliberately wreck their brake lights so that other motorists have no warning about when to slow down.
Once theyíve caused the crash they swap insurance details with the other driver and then start piling on the costs of the claim.
Theyíll inflate the claim for damage to the car and claim the car had several passengers so they can make big claims for personal injuries.
Some crash for cash fraudsters even work with fake witnesses who will claim they saw the accident even though they were nowhere near the scene.
Personal injury claims for whiplash can be massive moneymakers for fraudsters and is difficult for insurers to prove whether they are genuine or not.
Car insurance claims soar
Experts at insurance groups say crash for cash claims are soaring and warn that it is one of the fastest-growing areas of fraud.
It is also genuinely dangerous ñ most frauds are seen as victimless but in crash for cash there is a serious risk of major injuries for victims.
Fraud is soaring in the recession ñ experts reckon the insurance industry is detecting around 2,000 bogus claims every day as desperate customers attempt to use their insurance for a windfall.
Insurers fight back
Crash for cash scams can be hard to spot because the crooks are not the ones making the original claim. The driver who runs into the back of the other motorist is generally reckoned to be at fault so they make the claim.
Insurers only start investigating if there are big differences between the version of events from their customer and the other claimants. If a policyholder tells their insurer there was only one person in the other car and then the insurer gets a claim for five people suffering from whiplash the the alarm bells will ring.
But that can take months to sort out and will mean the honest customers suffering delays for a payout on a claim that is really not their fault.
Insurers have introduced lie detector technology on phone claims so they can catch out fraudsters. If you sound unsure they will suspect something is up.
They also use interview techniques which try to catch out crooks by getting them to tell the story of the crash again and again and also to go through the story backwards.
Genuine customers wonít object and will stick to their story while crooks might stumble over the story or not want to keep telling the story.
Car insurance customers fight back
Drivers need to be careful and keep an eye out for danger on the road at all times but beating the car insurance price rises is possible.
You canít steer clear of the cost of fraud but you can keep your own costs down by opting for a bigger excess. That is the amount youíre willing to pay for any claim before the insurer shells out.
The higher the excess, the lower the cost of your annual premium so it makes sense to shop around and pick an excess you can afford.
Buying insurance online can help save you money as well as insurers will offer discounts for those who buy online.
And you should always shop around for the best deal for your insurance when you receive your renewal notice. Click here to compare car insurance quotes.