Don’t be a Crash Test Dummy

Posted on by Defensive Driving | in Defensive Driving Online

An unfortunate side effect of the down economy is the influx people running insurance scams in an attempt to make a quick buck. As car insurance scams become increasingly common, it is likely that scam artists will be experienced and professional criminals that practice how to best dupe drivers into a fake accident. Unsuspecting drivers are most often targeted for this type of fraud, so your best defense is to become familiar with the most common accident driving traps used today and know the best ways to avoid them and how to respond if you do get into an accident that you believe to be fraudulent.

According to the Accident Reconstruction Network  the most common types of auto accident fraud are the following:

Staged accidents in which the drivers intentionally collide: Although you may not be the specific target of this scam, it is very possible that you will be a witness or an inadvertent part of the accident if it is not performed as planned.

Accidents in which the criminal involves you in a wreck that is made to look like your fault: This is a common scam where drivers target unsuspecting drivers and engage them in a situation where they are forced to rear-end the scammer’s car, an accident which is most commonly the rear ender’s fault. This is often accomplished by disconnecting their brake lights and braking unexpectedly or waving you to pass them and pulling into your way. The scammer will deny their fault and you will look like the guilty party in the accident making your insurance responsible for the reparation payments.

Auto repair shop fraud: This type of fraud is when the scammer aggressively requests that you use certain auto repair shop for your repairs. They will overcharge you for work that may be unperformed or replacement parts that merely needed to be fixed, and the scammers will be pocketing the difference in cash.

Faked accident reports: This most often occurs when a scam artist reports a hit and run or damage to their car that was not actually caused by another party.

Not only are these scams costly to your pocketbook and damaging to your insurance premiums, but they are also potentially dangerous to you and other involved parties. In addition to knowing how to recognize these scams, there are some other best practice actions that a defensive driver should take to help prevent falling victim to these costly scams.

 

    • Never drive while distracted. It is imperative that you pay attention to the road because scammers will capitalize on your inattention by swerving in front of you and breaking in the hopes that you will not be able to stop in time.
      Avoid putting an insurance company decal or sticker on your car as this can signal to scammers that you have liability insurance making you a target for fraud.

 

  • Maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and the others around you. Adhere to the three second rule so you and your fellow motorists have room to safely brake.

 

 

  • Compare the body shop’s bill with the insurance adjuster’s repair estimate to ensure you were not charged for services not needed or performed or gouged on the repair prices.

 

 

  • Be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye out for vehicles that are acting suspiciously. These behaviors can include circling a roundabout multiple times, erratic driving and fluctuating speeds and drivers or passengers that are closely watching you and your vehicle.

 

 
If you do get into an accident (whether you believe it is staged or real) you should approach the situation in a systematic and organized manner and cover all of your bases. Geico  recommends always having a disposable or digital camera in your car so you can take photos of the accident scene and everyone involved. You should also talk to eye witnesses and help gather up any information that you can give to the police and your insurance company to help support your case if you do fall victim to a scam.

~ R. Quick

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