As the headline suggests, staged car accident insurance fraud is when someone stages or exaggerates a car accident so they can make a fraudulent insurance claim. Some of these staged accidents can include faking injuries or damage to a vehicle (sometimes in collaboration with others) or providing false information to the insurance company.
The issue is that it can be difficult to determine whether an accident is 'genuine' or 'fake'. As such, we're going to take a deep dive into this issue by looking at the different types of staged car accident insurance fraud, the red flags and indicators to look out for, and how to protect yourself.
Just remember that if you need support or someone to talk to, our Sonder support team is available 24/7 to chat whenever you need it.
Types of car accident insurance fraud
There are four common types of car accident insurance fraud:
Swoop and squat: This complex scheme involves three vehicles, two driven by criminals and the third by the victim. The "swoop" car pulls ahead of the "squat" vehicle, intentionally cutting it off. The squat vehicle brakes suddenly. The victim can't react in time, rear-ending the squat vehicle. The swoop vehicle keeps driving, even though they caused the accident, and flees the scene. Because the driver who caused the accident can't be located, the victim has to pay the vehicle damage and personal injury claims of passengers in the squat vehicle.
Sideswipe: This often occurs at busy intersections with multiple turn lanes. As soon as the victim's vehicle drifts into the outer turn lane, the criminal side-swipes it and causes an accident.
Panic stop: Criminals drive a vehicle filled with passengers in front of the victim. A passenger watches and waits for the victim to be distracted, then tells the driver to brake suddenly, causing the victim to rear-end the criminal's vehicle.
Drive down: The victim merges his vehicle into traffic after being motioned in by the criminal. As the victim begins to merge, the criminal intentionally causes a collision but later denies that they indicated to the victim to merge.
What should I look out for?
If you're involved in a car accident, the important thing to do is to stay calm as criminals and scammers will try to take advantage of the situation. There are a number of red flags to look out for when it comes to whether a car accident is genuine or staged:
Did the other driver act strangely?
This most commonly occurs during the aforementioned 'Drive down' fraud.
For example - A driver signals you to complete your turn but then drives into the corner of your car. A number of passengers then exit the vehicle, claiming that they had right of way and complaining of an injury.
Were you prevented from changing lanes?
This most commonly occurs during the aforementioned 'Swoop and squat' fraud.
Were you driving in a wealthy neighbourhood?
Criminals and scammers will try to stage accidents in wealthy neighbourhoods as there's an increased chance of people driving cars with more insurance coverage.
Be wary and vigilant of any individuals who suddenly approach you at the accident scene and offer to help with insurance claims or repairs. These people are known as 'runners' or 'cappers' and may be attempting to take advantage of you as part of the fraud scheme.
What can I do to protect myself?
Immediately call the police to the accident scene.
Obtain contact and insurance information from the other driver involved in the accident.
Take pictures of the accident scene and any damages to your vehicle.
File a police report and obtain a copy of it
Report any suspicious activity to your insurance company or the authorities. Make sure to take note of people who may suddenly appear at the scene after the accident.
Be honest and truthful in your insurance claim to ensure that you are protected and receive the appropriate coverage.
If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime in any language. Simply start a chat with us via the home screen of the Sonder app.
Information sourced from: Australian Institute of Criminology, NICB, QBE, and ValuePenguin
Image credit: Erik Mclean at Unsplash
All content in Sonder's Help Centre is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice.