Car insurance firms think more than 300,000 cash-for-crash staged accidents have taken place on Britain’s roads over the past five years.
Although insurers, the courts and police have put the brakes on scammers by tightening up personal injury claim procedures, around 30,000 drivers reported they were a victim of the scam last year.
Over the five years, that works out as more than 1,000 accidents every week – which breaks down to one every 12 minutes of every hour seven days a week.
Almost two-thirds of victims are women or aged under 35 as fraudsters believe these motorists are less likely to argue about a claim, says car insurance firm LV.
Cash-for-crash fraudsters generally brake sharply in front of an unwary driver who goes into the back of their vehicle.
Under traffic laws, driving into the back of another vehicle is typically considered a fault accident, which opens the way for the cash-for-crash driver and passengers to make personal injury claims against the at-fault driver’s insurance cover.
Drivers find defending a claim against them results in them arguing their version of events against the scammers, and insurance companies find settling the claim cheaper than going to court to prove the case.
Deliberately causing an accident for gain is fraud. Many fraudsters talk up their claims to try to grab a higher pay out, according to LV investigators.
A third of victims of cash-for-crash scams report drivers claiming against their insurance included injuries and compensation for passengers who were not in the car.
John O’Roarke, Managing Director of LV car insurance, said: “Every year there are tens of thousands of staged accidents, which are putting the safety of innocent motorists at risk. Fraud is not a victimless crime and the cost of paying fraudulent claims drives up the cost of car insurance for all.
“LV= takes a hard line on fraud, investigates all suspicious claims and pushes for the toughest sentences for those who are prosecuted.”