Auto insurance scams are more common than you might think.
Scams are committed by criminals every day and can happen anytime during the claims process, according to GEICO. One of the most common auto insurance scams is the staged accident, which typically involves multiple vehicles and several people in various scenarios.
In Part 1 of the classic “swoop-and-squat” staged accident, the criminals use a primary vehicle and a blocker vehicle, GEICO explains. The primary vehicle swoops in front of the victim car and slams on the brakes, hoping to cause a rear-end collision. The blocker vehicle travels alongside the victim’s vehicle to prevent the victim from swerving to avoid the crash.
In Part 2, during the confusion directly after the accident, multiple people likely are to appear and disappear from the scene and make false injury claims, adding to the overall cost of the claim.
“If you suspect you’re being scammed, contact the police or your insurance company,” said Douglas Shiring, director of GEICO’s special investigation unit. “And knowing a few ways to protect yourself could help you avoid a potential auto insurance scam.”
- Call the police to the scene – Beware of anyone who is anxious to leave quickly before police arrive.
- Document with photos – Take photos of all the vehicles involved and the accident scene, license plate numbers, witness information and any other facts you think might be important.
- Beware of unsolicited tows – Be wary of tow trucks that arrive on the scene without anyone having called for the service. GEICO has list of local tow providers to assist policyholders.
- Do not tailgate – Criminals will brake unexpectedly to cause an accident. Look out for vehicles that brake suddenly for no apparent reason.
- Count parties involved – Note the number of occupants in each involved vehicle. The number of claimed injuries may increase from the actual number of people involved.
- Beware of fake injury claims – Be cautious of physicians who insist you file a personal injury claim after an accident, especially if you are not hurt. He added, “In fact, be aware of any service providers and professionals that seem to appear out of nowhere and suggest medical and legal services.”
If you suspect fraud, notify police or call GEICO at (800) 824-5404 ext. 3313.