Car accidents are scary, and many new drivers can be easily deceived by a convincing con man in such a high-stress scenario. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) found that questionable claims from accidents that may have been staged increased by 46.3 percent between 2007 and 2009, according to Bankrate.com.
Being scammed by an auto insurance fraudster can add to your personal premiums, but also increases general auto insurance premiums for everyone. Bankrate.com cites the 2008 study, "Fraud and Buildup in Auto Injury Insurance Claims," which found that general auto insurance fraud added $4.8 to $6.8 billion to auto injury claims alone in 2007. When car insurance companies have to pay out more, they have no choice but to increase their overall premiums. In the interest of helping drivers avoid being scammed, we've included some of the most common techniques that fraudsters use.
The T-Bone Accident
According to the DMV, some con artists will wait until a car is mid-intersection before jamming on the gas and T-boning the car. In this scenario, a bogus witness waits on the sidelines and claims that the victim was speeding through a stop sign or a red light.
The Merging Accident
In a merging accident, a fraudster will wave a car into their lane during heavy traffic; when the car tries to merge, the con artist will ram the side of the victim's car and then deny having given the courtesy wave.
Only particularly daring fraudsters attempt "the dive." In "the dive," a fraudster will wait on the side of the road until a relatively slow-moving car is passing and then throw themselves onto the hood of the car. When the driver gets out, the con artist takes the driver's insurance information and uses it to collect an insurance payment based on "soft-tissue damage" or "back pain," both of which are difficult to disprove.
The Quick Stop
Similar to the dive - though significantly safer - is "the quick stop." In this technique, one con artist will pull up beside the victim's car, preventing him or her from changing lanes, while another will pull in front of the car and stop suddenly, causing a rear end collision. Because drivers are almost always deemed "at-fault" for a rear-end collision, it is relatively easy for the fraudster to claim a back injury and collect payment.
Finally, even in a legitimate accident, drivers should be cautious about taking endorsements for mechanics, lawyers, or doctors from the other party, according to DMV.org. These professionals may be working with the fraudster and may overcharge for their services, splitting the cost with the person who endorsed them.