Staged fraud: Let's crash our cars into each other

Head of Axa’s special investigation unit says fraudsters crashing into each other

A number of people get together, often with two not very expensive cars, and crash them into each other before all claiming injury. There are a number of rings engaged in this type of thing in Cork, Donegal, Dublin, and Galway.”  Photograph: Alan Betson

A number of people get together, often with two not very expensive cars, and crash them into each other before all claiming injury. There are a number of rings engaged in this type of thing in Cork, Donegal, Dublin, and Galway.” Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Staged accidents are the most common and costly types of fraud for insurers, the head of Axa Insurance’s special investigation unit (SIU) has said.

“There might be minimal damage to a car and yet everyone is getting out – or not getting out – insisting that the roof was cut off the car and they all have these soft tissue injuries, usually whiplash,” said Frances McDonnell.

“A number of people get together, often with two not very expensive cars, and crash them into each other before all claiming injury. There are a number of rings engaged in this type of thing in Cork, Donegal, Dublin, and Galway.”

Dan Garner, team leader with Axa’s SIU, said the profile of fraudsters tends to vary from “organised criminals to groups of friends who hear about it on the internet”, but that serial offenders “tend to be quite intelligent”.

‘Induced claims’

A sub-category of staged accidents is what Mr Garner calls “induced claims” where a vehicle stops deliberately in front of an innocent road user in the hope they will be hit.

“We’ve seen a slight evolution of that in the last few years where a vehicle will indicate to a vehicle that they can pull out of a side road,” he said.

“When the innocent driver then pulls out, the fraudster will willingly drive into it. Obviously, they will then subsequently deny having given that indication. Staged accidents involve more claimants and are therefore the bigger yield for the fraudster.”