Some collisions aren’t really accidents at all; they’re carefully planned and executed as part of a criminal plot to commit insurance fraud. The FBI estimates that this type of crash costs the insurance industry $20 billion annually.
It’s important that your fleet drivers recognize the signs of a staged crash, so they can inform you about any legitimate suspicions they might have. You may want to pass along these tips from State Farm.
State Farm lists the most common types of staged vehicle crashes as the following:
- Swoop and squat -- In traffic, a vehicle suddenly pulls up in front of you and then slams on the brakes, causing an intentional rear-end collision.
- Drive down -- While you're attempting to merge into freeway traffic, a driver waves you forward, giving you the right-of-way. But instead of letting you in, that driver deliberately crashes into your vehicle and blames you for the accident.
- Sideswipe -- You’re making a left turn from a dual-turn lane and your vehicle accidently drifts into the other lane for just a moment. The driver in the other left-turn lane sideswipes you, then accuses you of reckless driving.
- T-Bone -- You’re cautiously driving through an intersection when a waiting driver deliberately slams into your vehicle. That driver then tells the police that you intentionally ran the stop sign.
- The wave -- While you’re attempting to change lanes in heavy traffic, another driver gestures you over. Just as you complete the maneuver, that driver rams into your vehicle.
After executing one staged accident, some criminals will even take it a step further, State Farm warns. The scammers might go to another location and stage a second or third crash. Then they’ll claim that the additional vehicular damage was all part of the first collision. Other scam participants may include the other vehicle's passengers, the tow-truck driver, auto body shop employees, doctors, rehab physicians and the driver's lawyer.
State Farm lists the following “behavior giveaways” as signs of a potential staged crash:
- The driver and passengers all complain of back and neck pain, even though the vehicle damage is minimal.
- Their descriptions of their injuries become more extreme and dramatic when they talk to a police officer or insurance company representative.
- Additional witnesses suddenly appear at the accident scene immediately following the crash.
- The driver of the other vehicle offers to find you a leading auto repair shop, doctor or lawyer.
For more tips on how to spot and combat staged collisions, click here to view some videos from the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.