Insurance Fraud & Staged Accidents

We’ve all heard stories about automobile insurance premiums being high, but what we haven’t heard is why.  Fraud is the number 1 reason for high insurance premiums and it is the number 1 problem facing the automobile insurance industry today.  Staged accidents are fast becoming an industry problem that involves both participants and innocent victims. Just as investigators get one staged accident figured out, the fraudsters find another creative way to scam the insurance companies.

Staged accidents go much further than just the cost to repair a vehicle, the fraud ring often extends to include the tow truck driver that shows up at the scene, the paralegal he refers you to, the medical clinic that the paralegal sends you to in order to assess your injuries and so on.  If you have been involved in an accident and you feel that something isn’t right or that you are being forced by individuals (other than your claims adjustor), to use specific facilities or companies in your treatment, you may be a victim of fraud and should discuss this with your Insurance Broker or your Claims Adjustor as soon as you can.

There are many different types of staged accidents and new ones are being used all the time.  Here are just a few examples of what can happen in a staged accident that are currently being used by fraudsters all over Ontario:

1.  Swoop and Squat
The example below is called a “swoop and “squat. In this scenario, a “swoop” car suddenly speeds up and cuts off the “squat” car (sometimes an innocent person in the wrong place at the wrong time and sometimes an accomplice). Unable to stop in time, the “squat” car rear-ends the “swoop” car. Usually, everyone who is in on the scam claims some sort of injury, and makes an auto insurance claim.


2.  Drive down
The criminal appears to yield and waves to the innocent victim to proceed with a merge or lane change. As the victim merges, the criminal drives into the innocent driver, and later denies that he or she had waved the victim on.


3.  Sideswipe
The criminal targets an innocent driver and purposely collides with the side of the target vehicle. This usually occurs in busy intersections with dual left turn lanes. If the victim in the inner lane drifts even a little into the outer lane, the criminal intentionally causes a collision.


4. Imaginary accidents

In some auto insurance fraud schemes, no accident ever really happens. The criminal reports an accident and subsequent injury, and makes a claim, but the accident only exists on paper. In some cases, police are called to the scene of an alleged “hit and run,” where only one car is present, and damage has been fabricated.
5.  Seat sales

This is a common feature of staged accidents. The principal perpetrator of the accident will “sell” passenger spaces in the car for a set price or a percentage of the passenger’s insurance claim. In some cases, the passengers do not even ride in the car when the accident occurs.
For tips on how to prevent getting involved in a staged accident or what to do if you find yourself a victims of one, check out IBC’s website


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