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Popular insurance firm, Aviva, has called for tougher penalties to be given to car insurance fraudsters after 820 staged accidents were uncovered last year.
The number of accidents, known as “crash for cash” incidents uncovered by Aviva increased by a huge 51 per cent last year which led to some 2,200 fraudulent personal injury claims.
Aviva is pressing for tougher penalties citing that often, rather than being locked up, fraudsters are sentenced to community service which does little to deter them from re-offending.
Aviva said that from the fake motor injury claims it uncovers, organised gangs are behind half of the incidents. The company went on to suggest that due to the increase in the car industry’s efforts to phase out bogus whiplash claims driving up the cost of insurance, those criminals who may have reported a “ghost” accident have now moved on to stage crash for cash accidents in a bid to produce more “evidence” to back up a claim.
Often, innocent motorists get caught up in crash for cash incidents, frequently in road traffic accidents where one vehicle is hit from behind by another. It is the driver of the car behind who is at fault, so fraudsters in the car in front will brake suddenly, leaving the motorist involved with no chance but to run into the back of them; they will then make a claim. Some frausters have even gone as far as disconnecting their brake lights so the car behind has even less chance of stopping in time.
Criminal gangs tend to target the type of drivers who appear most likely to be insured and the least likely to kick up a fuss about the incident, such as those with well-maintained cars, older drivers, or families with young children.
The side-effects of crash for cash accidents is not just the risk of physical injury to the innocent victims but also the increase in insurance premiums for all drivers. Industry estimates show that frauds of all types can add around £50 to the cost of the average car insurance premium.
Tom Gardiner, head of claims fraud at Aviva, said: ”The fast growth of induced accidents on our roads is cause for serious concern.
”Fraudsters are prepared to put the safety of innocent motorists and their families and passengers at risk for their own personal gain.”
He continued: ”We believe that convictions for motor injury fraud resulting from induced accidents should result in more custodial sentences that recognise the unique physical harm that this form of insurance fraud poses to motorists, as well as the wider social costs.”
Aviva remind motorists to always leave a safe distance behind the driver in front when possible, and to be extra cautious if they notice the brake lights on the car in front are not working. If you suspect you are a victim of a crash for cash scam, call the police whilst still at the scene and ask them to attend.