Each year, the insurance industry takes a $30 billion hit from fraud. And staged car accidents is one of the fastest growing types of insurance fraud, research shows. E3 Spark Plugs wants to make sure you know how to fight back if you believe you’ve been the victim of a staged crash scam.
At the accident site, the first thing you want to do is grab the trusty notepad and pen that you keep in your glove compartment and write down the license plate number of the other car. Count the number of passengers in the other involved vehicle and write down their names, phone numbers and driver’s license numbers. Of course, you’re likely to get grief about this if the other car is indeed full of scammers all in on the sham, so make sure you get a copy of the onsite incident report, plus the full police report with witness list that typically is available at your local police station within a few days. Do this especially if the report shows the damage is minor, which actually makes it tough for crooks to later claim serious injuries.
Take notes on how the other party behaves while waiting for the police to arrive. If they’re not so smart or simply too confident for their own good, they may appear casual or even joke while waiting, then right on cue, feign pain the moment the cops show up. Speaking of the cops, make sure you get their names and phone numbers.
Meanwhile, document everything you can about the damage to both cars. Write notes and take pictures with your cell phone. Again, don’t let a lack of apparent damage cause you to slack on this one. Images that prove damage was minor will help support your story if scammers attempt to make pricey claims.
Don’t be suckered by a seemingly random passerby to see a particular doctor, lawyer or body shop. In fact, write down those names, addresses and phone numbers and notify your state insurance fraud bureau, as this is a huge red flag. See a doctor you trust immediately, even if you don’t think you’ve suffered an injury (soft tissue injuries may not be apparent to you for several days or even weeks later) and keep records of any and all doctor visits, diagnoses and treatments. Also, you can expect to get calls and letters from personal injury lawyers who get your information via public record police reports. Before you choose one, check them out via your state’s Bar Association or the American Bar Association to make sure they haven’t been disciplined or complained against for ethics issues.
Did you successfully foil a would-be scammer’s bogus car crash scheme? Tell us your story on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook Fan Page.