Induced collision fraud represents a serious threat to public safety, estimated to cost hundreds of million pounds per year by UK insurers.
To commit such frauds, criminals either purchase and insure low value vehicles or use hired vehicles, and then force innocent members of the public and fleet vehicles to crash into them. By ‘inducing’ an innocent driver to collide with them, the fraudsters can rely on a highly positive chance of the acceptance of insurance liability. Multiple claims are subsequently submitted for the driver and (often fictitious) passengers.
The following good practice tips to avoid becoming a victim are issued by eDriving FLEET, based on insurance guidance, aimed to reduce claim costs and premium inflation. However, we strongly recommend you spend some time focusing on this issue in collaboration with your insurer and broker.
Common methods of inducing crashes
- Roundabouting: A fraudster disconnects their brake lights and drives around busy roundabouts/slip roads looking for targets. Once a target is selected, the fraudster drives 2-3 metres in front of the target and brakes sharply (sometimes an accomplice in another vehicle will distract the victim, with their horn or flashing headlamps, to help facilitate the crash).
- Roundabout Shunt: A fraudster stops at a busy roundabout and waits for a potential target to pull in behind them. The fraudster then pulls quickly onto the roundabout, but stops 2-3 metres onto the roundabout. The potential target’s attention will be focused on checking for traffic emerging from roundabout to their right, as they themselves pull onto the roundabout. Consequently, they are unlikely to be aware of the stationary vehicle directly in front of them, until a collision has become inevitable.
- The Russian Method: As a slight variation on the scam, the vehicle in front may slam on when a third vehicle overtakes them at speed and then cuts them up for no obvious reason. In fact, the overtaking vehicle may be part of an organised ‘tag team’, colluding in order to provide a ‘cover story’ as to why the vehicle ahead braked quickly.
Look out for these possible signs of an induced collision fraud
If a collision is pre-planned you may notice some typical unusual events before and after a fraudulent collision:
- The occupants in the vehicle in front of you turning around and looking at you out of the rear window – to ensure the trap is ready to be sprung
- The occupants may gesture to their driver to ‘slam on’ seconds before the vehicle stops dead in front of you
- The vehicle ahead may navigate the same roundabout several times – a sign that they are looking for a suitable victim to target
- If you are unfortunate enough to collide with a fraudster’s vehicle, the driver may not stop at the scene, but drive on and subsequently return on foot. This may be done to prevent you from inspecting the actual levels of damage to the fraudster’s vehicle, or to prevent you from ascertaining the number and identity of passengers (if any) present in the vehicle
- You may realise (unfortunately, usually after a collision) that the vehicle did not show any signs of stopping; for example, no brake lights illuminated
- The driver may appear well prepared, with written details of their name, address and insurer
- Witnesses may appear from nowhere, and corroborate your liability for the collision
What to do if you think you may have been involved in an induced/ fraudulent collision
- Never admit you are at fault – you may well not be
- Do not confront the other party or take any action that could place you at risk
- Call the police from the scene and report the collision. Invite the other driver to remain with you until the police arrive
- Remain vigilant at the scene:
– Count the number of occupants in the other vehicle
– Ask for the names and addresses of all people present, including any reported witnesses, together with the make, model, registration and owner of the vehicle you have collided with
– Note the insurance details of the driver of the other vehicle, record it from what the other person tells you, not by asking them to write it down
– Note any distinguishing features of the driver / passengers. This is useful evidentially in disproving subsequent insurance frauds
– Take photographs if you are able to do so without risk of confrontation
– Record information about the location and extent of damage to the other vehicle in detail
– Write a detailed account of the incident and note any other relevant information, as soon as possible after the collision
– Report any concerns to the police, fleet team, your manager or insurer, as appropriate
Tips for reducing the risk of personal involvement in an induced collision
- Proceed with caution at all times, particularly when approaching roundabouts and do not look for a gap in the traffic on the roundabout until you are at the give way line. Ensure your path immediately in front is clear before pulling out
- Watch your speed when approaching roundabouts, junctions and slip roads. Sticking to the speed limit and maintaining a realistic safety gap from the vehicle in front will help reduce the risk of a collision
- Be vigilant and maintain awareness of your surroundings at all times. Do not assume that other drivers will always act rationally
- Drive defensively, always at a speed that enables you to pull up safely within the distance you can see to be clear