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Car Insurance Scams – How to Recognize if You’re Involved in One

A road sign that reads scam alert to depict common car insurance scams.

Car insurance scams are on the rise and you can avoid being a victim by recognizing if you‘re involved in one. Truth is, one of the fastest-growing types of fraud involving the auto insurance industry takes in an estimated $30 billion dollars annually. That’s the amount industry insiders believe they lose each year to staged accidents. You may have been a victim of one of these scams and weren’t even aware of it, because there are a number of organized schemes that cost you, as well as the rest of us, a good deal of money in the form of higher insurance premiums.

Staged accidents are completely avoidable car crashes plotted and performed by teams of professional criminals with only one goal in mind…to scam your insurance company out of thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, the accident is designed to point the finger at you as being completely at fault, making you the unwitting culprit and the only one whose rates are going up after an insurance claim. Oh, and don’t forget that little black mark on your DMV record that‘ll stick with you for a while. It’s a lose-lose proposition for you any way you look at it.

Be on the Lookout for These Common Car Insurance Scams

Research indicates that there are a variety of insurance scams out there that have become quite common. Knowing what to look for will aid you in quickly identifying a possible scam situation before you become a victim. The following are some of the most popular among the schemers.

Fake Rear-Ender

This one is a frequent choice among scammers. The set up: a car cuts in front of you from another lane, then suddenly and intentionally slams on their brakes so you hit them from behind. Regardless of the damage, you can expect the driver of the other car to complain of a serious injury. It’s normally fake…but, you don’t know that.

How to Avoid the Fake Rear-End Collision

If you typically tailgate others, you may be setting yourself up to become a victim of a scam. Common knowledge says that the person who runs into someone else from behind is at fault. You can take steps to protect yourself by never tailgating. If someone cuts in front of you, immediately slow down in case they are a scammer – and even if they aren’t. Remain aware of traffic behind you – if someone is tailgating you and you suddenly slam on your brakes, you could be involved in a wreck while trying to avoid one.

It’s a fine balancing act while driving in congested bumper-to-bumper traffic, but always drive defensively and try to keep some space between you and the person in front – and the person behind.

Claiming More Damage Than Expected

It’s never good to be the driver at fault in a crash and some people will take advantage of the whole event to come out with more money from the insurance company. In this scenario, the hustler will inflate the actual amount of the original property damage you may have caused in a crash and add substantially to it in their final claim. In this way, they’ll get a bigger check from the insurer. Or they might have previous damage from something they did, such as backing into a mailbox, that they’ll want to try and get fixed for free.

How to Avoid the Fraudster Who Claims More Damage

Obviously, you want to avoid causing a car accident at all costs. But stuff happens. If you do appear to be at-fault, document everything. Use your cell phone and take pictures of all the damage to every vehicle involved. Write down what you saw and heard.

Fake Witness to a Staged Accident

If driving alone, this one can definitely hurt you. The “fake” usually waits at a particular spot near the predetermined collision zone. He’ll back up the scammer’s version of what happened and unless someone else saw the staged accident and can vouch for your side of the story…it’s two against one. You lose.

How to Avoid the Fake Witness

Unfortunately, short of buying and installing a dash camera, there isn’t much you can do here. Document everything that happened with pictures and write down what you remember as soon as feasible.

The Wave Takes on Many Forms in Car Crash Fraud

This fraud consists of a crookster who waves you into doing something you may have hesitated to do without his or her encouragement.

For example, a person helpfully waves to let you know that it’s OK – you can go ahead and merge in front of them into a busy traffic lane. Then they deliberately crash into you. If you’re riding alone and they have a fake witness standing nearby, they will validate the other driver’s account of the events, not yours. They just won’t mention the part about anyone ever waving you into traffic when they file their fraudulent claim.

How to Avoid the Waver

As awful as it sounds, there are no innocent motorists out there that want to help you merge or turn in front of them. That sounds like a horrible way to think, but it’s the mindset you must have when driving if you want to take away all possibility of becoming a victim. You are on your own while driving so don’t take chances on someone else’s motivation.

Man with hurt neck after car accident

The Sideswipe Car Crash Scammer

The sideswipe is usually run at an intersection where cars are making left turns against traffic. The scammer generally waits until a car is in the process of turning left in front of him, at which time he quickly speeds up to get in the way of the left turn. This results in the vehicle that’s turning left sideswiping the scammer’s vehicle. Once again, it’ll look like you did the hitting to your insurance company…and, the repairs are on you.

How to Avoid the Sideswiper

Be wary when you are making an unprotected turn or your visibility is compromised. It’s always better to wait for an arrow, letting you know that it is “safe” to turn (although, you should always keep an eye out for drivers who run red lights). If there is no arrow, you’ll just have to wait until nobody is near enough in approaching traffic to possibly speed up and cause a wreck – or nobody is coming at all. You may be on the receiving end of angry honks from drivers behind you – that’s still far better than getting into a wreck. (And they won’t be the ones facing damage, injuries and stress from a car accident).

The Dash Camera Discussion

In some countries, traffic is so unregulated and out of control that having a dash cam is just the cost of driving. And that may not be a bad idea. You can buy dash cams that will tuck you in at night, but you don’t have to spend a lot of money to find a good one. They range from around $50 to $500. Find one that is fairly easy for you to install and use (they do involve some technology). Dash cams are legal and they can tell a story when it’s your word against theirs.

What to do if You Get Into an Accident

The first steps after any collision involve safety. Call 911 to report the accident – especially if there is a fair amount of vehicle damage and there appear to be injuries. Are you (and your car) in safe place? Can you move to a safer spot? If not, can you move yourself away from the danger – maybe off the road? Is anyone hurt and if so, can you help them safely?

As soon as you feel you’ve addressed the immediate safety concerns, you need to start documenting the accident scene – if you are physically able. Take lots of pictures, including license plates. If there are witnesses, get their contact information. Remember, even though you’ll have some documentation from the police report, you’ll need to be your own advocate.

What if You Suspect a Car Insurance Scam?

If you suspect that you’ve just become the victim of car insurance fraud by being involved in one of these familiar staged accidents, write down the description of the car, year, make, and model. They might switch cars on you when they go for the estimate. Get all of the other driver‘s information, including name, address, phone number…as well as their driver‘s license, insurance information, and license plate number. Furthermore, take lots of pictures of the damage to their car and yours. If they’re pulling a scam, they may get nervous and not be willing to exchange all you ask for…especially with the police on the way to complicate things.

Find Affordable Car Insurance – and Protection – Online Today

By protecting yourself with as much information and photos as possible, you are less likely to be taken for a financial ride by these car insurance schemers. Although you can’t be completely sure you won’t fall prey to a scammer, you can be sure you’re getting the best rate on your car insurance. Why not get a free car insurance quote today? Freeway Insurance finds affordable car insurance for people just like you. Call us today at (800) 777-5620.

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