More than 300,000 car accidents have been deliberately staged in 'crash for cash' insurance frauds over the past five years.
That's more than 1,000 fraudulent crashes taking place every week, according to research from LV= car insurance.
'Crash for cash' takes place when someone purposely causes an accident in an effort to gain financially via their insurance company or through claiming compensation for injuries.
According to LV=, fraudsters are choosing young women to carry out the scams as they believe they are less likely to cause a fuss about the accident. In the past two years 65% of victims were female and 59% were 34 or under.
The insurer has also seen a large increase in the amount of dishonest people exaggerating the seriousness of their accident or their injuries in an attempt to get a higher payout. One in three drivers (32%) who have been involved in an accident in the past two years said the other party exaggerated the circumstances of the collision in order to get a bigger payout.
Not a victim-less crime
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 victim-less 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."
It has identified three of the most common types of staged accidents.
1. The slam-on. This is where a fraudster brakes sharply for no apparent reason, causing the motorist behind to drive into the back of them. In these cases, the fraudsters will often disconnect their brake lights so the motorist behind does not know that they are slowing down. Over 30,000 accident victims were involved in a staged rear-end shunt in 2013.
2. The flash for cash scam. This is where the fraudster flashes their headlights at the victim to let them merge into traffic, but will then drive ahead and crash into the back of their vehicle. Almost 3% of motorists involved in a car accident in the past year believe they fell victim to this scam.
3. The full-car smash. In these cases fraudsters take a car-load of passengers out on the roads and then induce an accident with another vehicle. The fraudsters then make multiple claims for personal injuries, which often far outweigh the cost of repairing the vehicles involved.
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