Dave Lucas, CIC
Another reason to keep your eyes on the road is insurance fraud. The police, hefty fines and traffic accidents are not all you have to look out for when you text while driving. Insurance fraudsters are looking for that moment you are distracted too. Here are some things you should know about car insurance fraud and the people who take advantage of your distracted driving and texting.
(NC)—If hefty fines, possible demerit points and the fact that you are three times more likely to be involved in a collision if you are texting aren’t enough to make you think twice about driving distracted, perhaps this will. Apparently police are not the only ones watching for you to take your attention away from the road. Insurance fraudsters are known to pounce at the opportunity to convert your inattention into their windfall by purposely causing a collision at the exact moment you are distracted.
Here’s one example of how this crime is orchestrated: A vehicle loaded with numerous occupants pulls in front of a target vehicle. A passenger in the front vehicle watches behind for the target driver to be distracted. A diversion like answering a phone, texting or reaching back to return a child’s toy can provide the opportune moment for the fraudster to slam on the brakes, leaving the target driver little time to react. In some cases, a second vehicle — part of the fraud –— pulls alongside the target vehicle, boxing it in, so there’s no room to swerve and avoid rear-ending the lead vehicle when it suddenly stops.
In either scenario, the innocent driver rear-ends the fraudster’s vehicle and could end up being seriously hurt. At the very least, the innocent driver will be handed a traffic ticket and deemed at fault, according to the common traffic rules. Depending on the person’s previous driving record, this could mean higher insurance rates when the policy is renewed. Meanwhile, the fraudster and his or her passengers — and there’s usually three or four in the vehicle — all claim for unnecessary and expensive health treatments.
According to Ken Lindhardsen, vice-president of Claims for Desjardins General Insurance Group, staged collisions like the scenarios described above are a large component of this type of fraud. Criminals can stage collisions in many different ways and a single event can result in tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent claims. “These activities not only put innocent people in jeopardy, but also result in increased costs to every driver with an insurance policy,” says Lindhardsen. “Addressing fraud has gone way beyond protecting the financial interests of our clients. Now that staged collisions are so widespread we feel we also have a responsibility to raise awareness about the physical harm this activity can cause.”
According to Lindhardsen, the more people know about these types of frauds, the more alert they’ll be and hopefully avoid distractions that can make them a target. For more information about staged collisions and how you can avoid being a victim, visit Desjardins General Insurance at http://www.dgidirect.ca.