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13 May 2021

Insurance fraud: do you live in a 'crash for cash' hotspot?

Find out the 30 worst-affected areas plus how to avoid the scam

The Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) has released a list of postcode areas that it believes to be the worst affected by 'crash for cash' insurance scams.

The investigative organisation - which works with insurers and the police to build cases against fraudsters - analysed 2.7m car insurance claims made between October 2019 and December 2020. Of these, it has identified 170,000 which it thinks could be linked to suspected crash for cash networks.

Here, Which? reveals, how 'crash for cash' works, the 30 worst-hit areas, and the action you can take to avoid the scam.

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What is 'crash for cash'?

Crash for cash is a kind of insurance fraud in which fraudsters fake or deliberately cause traffic accidents in order to make claims against other drivers.

These can range from claims for accidents that didn't happen to the staging - or inducing - of real collisions with innocent drivers.

Crash for cash fraud is often organised and perpetrated by criminal gangs. Scammers have been known to take out multiple policies to increase the number of claims they can make.

Like all fraud, crash for cash claims have an impact on premiums generally and are likely to most severely impact the premiums paid by drivers in higher risk areas - such as known fraud hotspots.

However, it stands out against other types of insurance fraud because of the physical threat it poses to drivers. Stephen Dalton, Head of Intelligence and Investigations at the IFB, told Which? 'This scam has caused countless injuries and we've even seen cases where, tragically, innocent people have been killed.'

Where are the crash for cash hotspots?

Birmingham, Bradford, Manchester, London and Luton are where crash for cash activity is most often detected, according to the IFB's analysis - though nine other towns and cities are represented among the 'hotspots' identified.

The table below shows the 30 most impacted postcode areas.

How do I avoid crash for cash scammers?

No matter how careful you are, there's no simple way to avoid being targeted by a crash for cash scammer, but there are things you can do to reduce the odds of being falsely claimed against.

Stay alert

It's common sense, but staying alert and paying attention to nearby road users will reduce your risk of being involved in an accident - and potentially of being baited into one by a fraudster. Tactics fraudsters use can include braking suddenly in a busy junction or roundabout.

Know the signs

According to the IFB, signs of a crash for cash encounter can include the driver or their passengers appearing to be unfazed after the collision, seeming to exaggerate injuries, or being equipped with pre-written insurance information. None of these are proof positive, but it's worth noting any of these details if you notice them.

Record what happened

Depending on the severity of the collision this may be easier said than done, but the more accurate your record of events, the better. Try to keep written notes of how the accident happened. If anyone else witnessed the event, ask them for their contact details. Any available dashcam or CCTV footage can also be extremely valuable.

If you're suspicious

If you think you've been targeted by a crash for cash scam, you can report evidence confidentially to the IFB's Cheatline on 0800 422 0421 or via its website.

For more tips on what to do in the event of an insurance claim (including advice on how to weigh up which claims are worth making) and a comparison of which insurers are best for claims, see our comprehensive guide.