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How to Protect Yourself from Auto Insurance Fraud

March 25th, 2011 at 09:50 am

With auto insurance fraud on the rise itís important to know how to spot a staged accident. Itís also important to know that staged accidents arenít the only type of fraud. If youíre involved in a fender bender it may be truly an accident but fraud could still be perpetrated by the other person. If they had previous damage to their car this could be a perfect opportunity to get you to pay to have it fixed. Another form of insurance fraud is policies that promise far more than they ever intend to deliver. These are usually sold door-to-door or by unsolicited telephone calls. You think youíre protected until it comes time to file a claim, then the agent is nowhere to be found or you discover that virtually every conceivable reason is given to deny the claim. Here are a few tips on how to protect yourself from auto insurance fraud.

Basic Types of Fraud

There are two basic types of fraud, with a myriad of variations on each. The first is called hard fraud, which usually involves some sort of staged accident. The second is called soft fraud, and it consists of things like including extra body work from a previous accident into a claim or saying a vehicle is worth more than it actually is in order to receive more money.

Deliberate Accidents

There are a lot of ways crooks can stage an accident and make the authorities and your insurance company believe itís for real. Some involve more than one vehicle, or even an "innocent bystander" who just happens to witness the collision. These types of deliberate accidents can be avoided, but scammers can be very sophisticated. As a result, these "accidents" have occurred often enough to be given a title.

Sideswipe

When there are multiple turn lanes be prepared for the sideswipe artist who will deliberately but slowly move into your lane and then claim it was you who drifted into them.

The Drive Down

This scam involves a driver that is waiting to pull into traffic. They notice an oncoming driver wave them into the lane. As they pull out that driver speeds up and hits their car. Of course, that driver claims not to have waved and the one who pulled out is considered at fault.

Swoop and Squat

This is where a vehicle with a number of passengers will suddenly stop in front of you while a partner in another vehicle blocks your way so you canít avoid hitting the first car. The blocking car will quickly leave and it will appear youíre at fault. The passengers in the car you rear ended will all claim injuries.

The T-Bone

A very dangerous scam, the t-bone involves a car that waits at a crossroads, like a four way stop, until another vehicle goes through the intersection. They pull out quickly and hit that car in the side, and then claim the car never stopped at the corner. Frequently these scammers will be accompanied by a witness or two who just happened to see the whole thing take place and will back up the perpetrator.

What You Can Do

The best thing you can do to protect yourself from a hard scammer is to drive defensively. Make sure you donít tailgate and are aware of your surroundings. Give yourself plenty of distance between vehicles and focus on your driving. Donít be distracted by cell phones or CD players. If youíre in an accident get as much information as possible from everyone involved, and call the police immediately. Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as you can, and try and get as much visual evidence as possible by using a digital camera or camcorder.

Soft Fraud

These types of deceptions may be more difficult to spot, but they end up inflating the claim and ultimately costing you money because your insurance rates will probably go up. In order to protect yourself itís important to get visual evidence of any damage as quickly as possible. If there were any bystanders try and get a statement from them. Call the police immediately and donít settle on the spot, always contact your insurance company. You can also avoid fraud by dealing with a reputable insurance company and not buying insurance from someone you donít know and trust simply because itís cheap. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There is no sure way to avoid a scammer, but by simply being observant and alert you can increase your chances of not falling victim to fraud.

Guest post from Bailey Harris. Bailey writes about online car insurance quotes.

2 Responses to “How to Protect Yourself from Auto Insurance Fraud”

  1. -Jerry- Says:

    Insurance fraud is definitely rampant. I was in a deli once and while waiting for my sandwich I heard two guys at the next table planning out a fraud completely aloud, with no shame whatsoever. Another guy I know (vaguely) dumped his own car into a lake to lead to an insurance payout. Disgusting that it is so prevalent.
    Jerry

  2. Jim Says:

    I think the staged fraud has to be very common. I think it would be hard for the insurance companies to tell what an items value was after it has been damaged, especially in cases where it can't be clearly identified. And if you have no inventory, it is hard to say but I think in most cases they will give you a blanket check to cover up to a certain amount of items lost or damaged.

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