Insurance experts say commercial fleets are being deliberately targeted by the gangs because they then perceive it as a victimless crime.
The fraudsters stage a deliberate accident, often by disconnecting their own brake lights so unwary motorists drive into the back of them. They then greatly exaggerate their insurance claims in a number of ways, including adding non-existent passengers to the claim.
The growing problem is costing more than £1.5 billion a year, adding 5% to policyholders’ insurance premiums.
A spokesman for the Fraud Investigation Team at insurance company Norwich Union said: ‘The trend is towards the fraudsters targeting predominantly larger commercial fleets, those that have marked vehicles. They see targeting such fleets as a victim-free crime, affecting an organisation rather than a person. It’s worrying.’
Insurance giant Royal & SunAlliance has issued a series of tips that drivers should act on if they believe they have been involved in a staged or deliberate accident.
R&SA’s UK counter-fraud manager John Beadle, an ex-Metropolitan police detective superintendent, said: ‘Staged motor accidents are on the rise and are potentially extremely dangerous. Not only do they cost honest drivers millions of pounds each year, but they also put innocent motorists in danger. We urge people to take note of our guidelines in the event that they may become victims of this crime.’
Beadle, who recently became chairman of the new Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB), created by insurers to clamp down on such crime, added: ‘There are usually some tell-tale signs that you have been involved in a fraudulent collision. Motorists should pay extra attention to people braking suddenly in front of them for no apparent reason or otherwise driving erratically.’
What to tell your drivers