Most everyone assumes when there is a car wreck that the entire thing was an accident. Fender benders and small crashes happen every day, but amazingly there are a number of them that are not accidental at all. They are caused by individuals looking to commit insurance fraud. Billions of dollars are stolen each year as a result of insurance fraud making it no laughing matter. These scam artists have a number of ways they “create” an accident so they can make a claim against an insurance policy. Some things to look for in a potential scam as it unfolds includes the following:
When in a two lane left hand turn, if you are driving in the inside lane the scammer will be looking for you to potentially drift (even barely) into the outer lane. This happens frequently with people driving in traffic like this and for that reason scammers are on the lookout. When you drift into the other lane they intentionally ram into you from the side. The only remedy is awareness and doing your best to drive perfectly when in a duel-lane situation.
Be Aware of the “Wave-In”
These scammers appear to be waving you in to the lane as you try to merge. How friendly right? Wrong! These scammers will speed up as you merge and plow right into you. When it comes time to explain what happened they will deny having waved you into the lane. Take your time and wait for a larger opening to merge into another lane. Beyond all else make sure you keep your calm and stay composed. Road rage can make drivers very impatient. An impatient driver is a careless driver.
Swooping and Squatting
This horrible scam is incredibly common, so much that it has its own name. The swoop and squat is when the scammer in another vehicle will quickly slip in front of your vehicle and then break hard. There’s no real reaction time and there is usually a collision. The nightmare continues when passengers begin to complain of back injuries trying to drive up the amount of the claim. While these accidents do happen legitimately, far too often they are premeditated scams designed to make a claim against your insurance.
Watch Out for “Helpful” Strangers
We like to believe that all people have the best of intentions. Sadly this is just not always the case. Right after an automobile accident, sometimes scammers will come to you pretending to want to help or set you up with specific services. People that have just been in an accident are in a particularly fragile state and often happy to accept help. Sadly these scammers are really just offering services designed to steal your money or make false claims against your insurance. If someone you don’t know comes up wanting to set you up with a specific doctor, attorney or repair facility be cautious. If it feels wrong, it probably is wrong. Don’t seek the advice of strangers and just tell them you’ll sort it out with the police and the insurance company yourself.
Keeping Yourself Free of a Scam
USA Today notes that there is a fraud insurance agency for your state. If you believe you are the victim of fraud, contact that office and give the all the necessary information. Always keep good records after an accident. Medical records related to the accident as well as any work done to your vehicle are important and should be kept. Good driving habits are also ways to prevent these scams. Keep plenty of room between you and other cars and always follow local traffic laws. Being aware of the other cars on the road is supremely important as well. If you are in an accident take note of anyone else that may be a passenger and get their information as well so no “extra passengers” may appear on an insurance claim. Make a mental note of how everyone is acting in the car as well. Are they behaving as if they are injured or are they moving around freely, laughing and having a good time? Take plenty of pictures of the scene as well as the damage to the vehicles. Make sure law enforcement are always called regardless of how serious or minor it may be. The police report is a way to hold scams to a minimum.