Crash for cash gangs pose rural menace

With a major industry report into the menace of organised ‘Crash for Cash’ gangs set to be issued by the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) on Thursday (22nd Nov) the UK’s leading rural insurer NFU Mutual has highlighted how drivers in rural communities are increasingly becoming targets for such fraudsters.

As one of the insurance companies closely involved with the IFB, NFU Mutual’s experience of induced and staged accidents revealed that the problem is growing in the countryside just like urban areas.

Rob Spiegelhalter, Claims Fraud Manager at NFU Mutual, said: “I think there can be a perception that this is mainly an urban problem, it is a big problem there but in our experience as the UK’s leading rural insurer the problem affects rural areas as well.”

“Not only are A roads, big roundabouts and major junctions arguably more likely to be found beyond the cities themselves, but the less populous the location the less likely it is that there will be witnesses there to potentially contradict the version of accounts presented by the fraudsters.

“In particular these gangs are on the look out for victims who they think will take the ‘easy’ option and let their insurer settle claims rather than fighting them through the courts, so we’d especially urge elderly drivers, lone female drivers and anyone driving a clearly liveried company vehicle to remain vigilant.”

Rob pointed to a recent case involving NFU Mutual customers as examples of how NFU Mutual and all insurance companies are increasingly looking to take the fight to the fraudsters where fraud is suspected:

Driver A was targeted on a roundabout by three cars driving in formation and then inducing an accident as he took his wife to the cinema in Hertfordshire in Oct 2010.

Despite the car he ran into being able to drive away from the scene after exchanging details, two weeks later Driver A received a claim for significant damage, recovery vehicle costs and multiple personal injuries to the value of £40,000.

Driver A and NFU Mutual wanted to fight the case and take a stand on behalf of other potential victims and took the case to court where it was thrown out by the Judge.

Driver B was targeted in April 2010 by a gang in vehicles in Warwickshire, when a ‘stooge’ vehicle swerved across the lanes of the road inducing him to crash into the back of an accomplice vehicle immediately in front of him.

In this case Driver B’s quick thinking meant he was able to record the details of the ‘stooge’ vehicle before it sped away meaning the vehicle owner could be questioned by investigators about the incident after a significant insurance claim was submitted.

Ultimately discrepancies in the evidence provided by the ‘stooge’ driver and his subsequent failure to appear as a witness at court contributed toward a judge dismissing the claim in Dec 2011.