As if it wasn’t painful enough to be found at fault in an auto accident, imagine finding out that it was not an “accident” after all. Each year thousands of drivers become victims of staged auto accidents, and most never realize it. Criminals plan the accident to appear as the innocent driver is at fault, and then file claims for vehicle damage and personal injury to the at fault driver’s insurance company.
The CPCU Society and the National Insurance Crime Bureau offer the following safety tips to help avoid these scams:
- When driving look beyond the car in front of you. If you see traffic slowing, start applying the brakes – don’t wait for the car in front of you to brake first.
- Allow plenty of space between your car and the car ahead of you so you have time to react to sudden stop. The general rule is one car length for every ten miles per hour traveled.
- Be especially careful when turning into a lane that allows for two vehicles to turn left simultaneously. People committing staged collisions often prey on cars that cross the center line, purposely sideswiping the victim’s car.
- Call the police to the scene and get a police report, even if damage is negligible. If the police report describes the resulting damage as minimal, it will be harder for the criminal to inflict further damage to their car afterwards and collect a larger claim.
- Carry a disposable camera in your glove compartment and take as many pictures of the other car and its passengers as possible.
- If you suspect a scam, call the NICB hotline at (800) TEL-NICB.