Several years ago we wrote a road safety communication covering the problem of fraudulent insurance claims as various forms fraud, including staged and induced ‘slam-on’ collisions, particularly targeted at liveried fleet vehicles, had been in the media.
Following detailed discussion of this topic at a recent Virtual Risk Manager users benchmarking forum, we have updated and re-circulated the message, as the issue and risks from fraudulent motor claims appear to be as relevant as ever – particularly for liveried vehicles.
The following good practice tips to avoid becoming a victim are based on an insurance guidance, aimed to reduce claim claims costs and premium inflation – and we would strongly recommend you spend some time focusing on this issue in collaboration with your insurer and broker.
Induced collision fraud represents a serious threat to public safety, estimated to cost hundreds of million pounds per year by UK insurers.
Gang members either purchase and insure low value vehicles or use hired vehicles, and then force innocent members of the public and fleet vehicles to crash into them. By ‘inducing’ an innocent driver to collide with them, the fraudsters can rely on a highly positive chance of the acceptance of insurance liability. Multiple claims are subsequently submitted for the driver and (often fictitious) passengers. According to insurers, who continue to work hard to mitigate this risk, the average insurance bill per induced collision is £25-30,000.
Common methods of inducing crashes
1. Roundabouting: A fraudster disconnects their brake lights and drives around busy roundabouts/slip roads looking for victims. Once a victim is selected, the fraudster drives 2-3 metres in front of target and breaks sharply (sometimes an accomplice in another vehicle will distract the victim, with their horn or flashing headlamps, to help facilitate the crash).
2. Roundabout Shunt: Fraudster stops at a busy roundabout and waits for a potential victim to pull in behind them. The fraudster then pulls quickly onto roundabout, but stops 2-3 metres onto the roundabout. The potential victim’s attention will be focussed on checking for traffic emerging from roundabout to their right, as they themselves pull onto the roundabout. Consequently, they are unlikely to be aware of the stationary vehicle directly in front of them, until after a collision has become inevitable.
3. The Russian Method: As a slight variation on the scam, the vehicle in front of you may slam on when a third vehicle overtakes them at speed and then cuts them up for no obvious reason. In fact the overtaking vehicle may be part of an organised ‘tag team’ who are colluding in order to provide a ‘cover story’ as to why the vehicle ahead braked quickly.
Possible signs of an induced collision fraud
The vehicle directly in front of you stops unexpectedly for no obvious reason, usually upon entry to a roundabout or road junction, causing you to rear end it. If collision is pre-planned you may note some typical unusual events:
- The occupants in the vehicle in front of you may be turning around and looking at you out of the rear window - to ensure the trap is ready to be sprung.
- The occupants may gesture to their driver to ‘slam on’ seconds before the vehicle stops dead in front of you.
- Vehicle ahead may navigate the same roundabout several times - a sign that they are looking for a suitable victim to target.
- The vehicle in front (with which you have just collided) does not stop at the scene, but drives on. The Driver subsequently returns on foot. In an induced collision scenario, this may be done in order to prevent you from a) inspecting the actual levels of damage to the fraudsters vehicle, or b) to prevent you from ascertaining the number and identity of passengers (if any) present in the vehicle.
- The driver of the vehicle you have run into appears well prepared with written details of their name, address and insurer.
- Witnesses appear from nowhere, and corroborate your liability for the collision.
- The vehicle in front (with which you have just collided) does not show any signs of stopping e.g. Brake lights not illuminated.
Think you may have been involved in an Induced collision?
- Never admit liability at the scene. Never admit you are at fault – you may well not be.
- Do not confront the other party or take any action that you feel might place you at risk.
- Call the Police from the scene and report the collision. Invite the other driver to remain with you until the police arrive.
- Be vigilant at the scene:
- Count the number of occupants in the other vehicle.
- Ask for the names and addresses of all people present, including any reported witnesses, together with the make, model, registration and owner of the vehicle you have collided with.
- Note the Insurance details of the driver of the other vehicle, record it from what the other person tells you, not by asking them to write it down.
- Note any distinguishing features of the driver / passengers. This is useful evidentially in disproving subsequent insurance frauds.
- Take photographs if you are able to without risk of confrontation.
- Record information about the location and extent of damage to the other vehicle in detail.
- Write the fullest possible account of the incident and all related details, as soon as possible after the collision.
- Report any concerns to the police, fleet team, your manager or insurer as appropriate.
Tips for reducing the risk of personal involvement in an induced collision
- Proceed with caution at all times, particularly when approaching roundabouts and do not look for a gap in the traffic on the roundabout until you are at the give way line. Ensure your path immediately in front is clear before pulling onto the roundabout.
- Watch your speed when approaching roundabouts, junctions and slip roads. Sticking to the speed limit and maintaining a realistic safety gap from the vehicle in front will help reduce your risk.
- Be vigilant when driving, and maintain awareness of your surroundings at all times. Do not assume that other drivers will always act rationally.
- Your best approach is driving defensively - always at a speed that you can pull up safely within the distance you can see to be clear.
Dr Will Murray, Research Director