In recent years, the high value of car insurance pay-outs has proved irresistible to criminals, leading some to stage or even cause accidents on the roads. The subsequent rise in fraudulent claims has proved costly. The UK’s Insurance Fraud Bureau estimates that faked accidents cost UK insurers alone £340 million ($425 million) each year. Criminal gangs have even orchestrated multiple collision incidents worth millions of pounds. For the innocent victims of these so-called ‘crash for cash’ incidents, the experience can be terrifying as well as costly, and have lasting consequences. Increasingly, road users are fighting back, using visible dash cams to deter fraudsters and the video evidence the cameras provide to back up the driver’s version of events.
Crash for Cash Scams Explained
There are different kinds of ‘crash for cash’ incidents, but the most worrying involve an innocent third party. In many of these, fraudsters driving ahead of the victim brake hard without warning, causing the unsuspecting driver to crash into them. In some cases, the driver may have even removed or disabled their brake lights, making these collisions near-impossible to avoid.
Another is the so-called ‘flash for cash’ scam, in which a criminal might flash or beckon a driver into slow-moving traffic only to roll into them and blame them for pulling out. Some fraudsters have even been known to throw themselves directly in front of a vehicle, with potentially devastating consequences. Whatever the accident, the resulting insurance claims are typically inflated in inventive ways. This can include exaggerated or fictitious damage, hire-car costs, vehicle storage and towage costs, loss of earnings compensation and, of course, personal injury claims.
Being the innocent victim of a fake crash is distressing. Aside from the inconvenience of a damaged car and potential genuine injuries, drivers found to be at-fault will lose their insurance excess, and may face higher premiums or even prosecution. In many cases, the unaware motorist may also worry about the injuries and trouble they’ve caused to the fraudsters.
Protection from Fake Claims
Protecting yourself from these scams is partly about awareness and education. This involves driving more mindfully, staying on the lookout for erratic drivers, passengers and pedestrians, and never taking lights or hand signals at face value. But it’s hard to anticipate somebody actively trying to make you crash.
Dash cams provide another line of defense against fraudsters. They act as a visible deterrent, discouraging the criminals from targeting you in the first place, and their footage can be used as evidence to support your side of events, should the worst happen. For example, if someone motioned you into moving traffic, or braked harshly for no reason, you’d be able to prove it.
In a ‘crash for cash’ scam, dash cam footage will also help to establish who was driving the other vehicle and how many passengers they had, along with recording any damage and exactly how it was caused. In some cases, criminals have simply driven away after realizing the collision had been filmed.
Dash cam footage can be very useful to police or insurance investigators, even if you weren’t involved in an accident yourself. Aside from showing what happened, it could reveal other conspirators. For example, some scams include a third vehicle that’s used to trigger the crash. Having more access to better quality dash cam footage helps authorities identify and prosecute criminal gangs, making insurance cheaper and the roads safer for everyone.
Technology to the Rescue
The latest dash cams offer even more protection against scammers. With cameras capable of recording detailed HD video even at night, there’s more chance of capturing everything that happened. Dual-camera dash cams that also record your car’s interior can show that you were paying attention, and may help prove how you reacted and how you sustained any genuine injuries. An interior view can be helpful in disproving any false claims by planted witnesses – i.e. members of criminal gangs who set themselves up by the roadside and then give false evidence to police. These fake witnesses may tell officers that you were driving while on the phone or eating, for example, and the dash cam footage can catch them out.
Dash cams equipped with GPS offer stronger proof of the exact time and location of a crash, and the speed of the vehicles involved. Sophisticated dash cams can even offer more data to support your story. By connecting to the CAN bus and interfacing with the car’s engine management system these advanced products can record engine speed, brake pressure and even steering angle.
Insurers and police already recognize the value of dash cam footage, and in some countries, police forces can even use videos to support a prosecution. Meanwhile, insurers recognize that motorists who install cameras are more likely to care about road safety and careful driving. They may offer significant discounts, knowing that people with dash cams represent a lower risk of accidents and fraud.
Setting aside faked crash incidents, even the best drivers can have a bad day and cause a genuine accident. Equally, innocent drivers and witnesses can see the same accident in different ways. Having a dash cam lets you prove how you were driving, what you saw, and how you reacted. It could save you money, stress and time when dealing with the results of any accident – real or fake.
VIA recently launched the VIA Mobile360 D700 Drive Recorder, a full-featured, compact dual camera 1080p driver recorder that is available with custom software support and seamless CAN bus and cloud integration. The unobtrusive and compact design includes GPS support with live tracking using a customizable app, a 3-axis G-sensor and four infra-red LEDs that ensure a clear video stream of the vehicle’s interior at all times. In short, the VIA Mobile360 D700 Drive Recorder is highly suited for personal and commercial use to deter insurance claim scams and provide vital supporting evidence.
Learn more about the VIA Mobile360 D700 Drive Recorder here.
You can also watch this short introductory video: