Avoiding Staged Accidents
Staged accidents are a form of insurance fraud that is responsible for billions of dollars in bogus claims annually in the United States. This particular type of scam seems to have originated in the U.S. in the late 1990s and has since spread to a number of other global locations such as the U.K, Singapore, and Australia.
Accidents are often staged by organized teams employing specific methods and strategies designed to appear as if they were involved in legitimate mishaps. Commercial vehicles are often targeted for staged accidents as the criminals believe they stand a better chance of collecting from a business as opposed to an individual.
Types of Staged Accidents
Particular types of accidents and situations are favored by teams perpetrating this kind of insurance scam. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, these are some of the most common methods of engaging your vehicle in a staged accident.
- Drive Down – The unsuspecting victim is motioned to merge into traffic by what appears to be a helpful driver. While in the process of completing the merge the criminal speeds up and causes a crash. The victim is held responsible for not yielding and the perpetrator denies having waved to the first driver.
- Panic Stop – An older automobile with backseat passengers pulls in front of your vehicle in this variation. The passengers keep an eye on the driver of the trailing vehicle and when they notice they are distracted for a second, signal for the driver to slam on their brakes. This causes a rear-end collision and results in damage and injury claims.
- Swoop and Squat – The “Squat” car pulls in front of the victim’s vehicle and the “Swoop” car cuts off the “Squat”, causing a rear-end collision with the trailing victim.
- Side Swipe – The criminal will be positioned in the outer lane of a dual left-turn intersection. While turning, they will sideswipe the victim’s car and blame the victim.
There are often accomplice witnesses or spectators that will offer help in an attempt to lend more credence to the scam.
How to Avoid Staged Accidents
Some measures may be taken by the wary individual or fleet manager to minimize the potential of being involved in a staged accident. The first is to never tailgate. Always leave enough room in front for you to safely stop your vehicle and keep an eye on traffic beyond what is immediately in from of you.
If you are in a collision, take these precautions at the scene of the accident.
- Take cell phone pictures of the damage and all of the passengers.
- Call the police to the scene.
- Count the number of passengers and get their names and information if possible. Note their demeanor, for instance, acting injured when the police arrive but appearing fine previously.
Contact your state insurance fraud bureau if you suspect a scam. One sign is if you are directed by a stranger to an unknown body shop, doctor, or lawyer. Your awareness at the scene of an accident can result in it being exposed as an attempted fraud with financial savings to your or your business.