Insurers are being urged to take advantage of more sophisticated detection techniques in the war against staged traffic accidents.

Nick Tissot, director of forensic accident investigators Transafe UK, said the claims industry needs to radically alter its approach if it is to counter the growing problem of fraudulent personal injury claims.

He said that insurers rely too heavily on traditional detection activities, while not enough use is made of accurate scientific methods.

Tissot said: "By using computer models and investigation techniques we can track almost exactly what happened in a crash and therefore uncover valuable clues. We can even gain valuable information from the pattern of scratches on the paintwork of a damaged vehicle."

To provide information on fraudulent accident claims in the UK, Tissot and four other accident investigators launched Transafe UK last year. The company is based on the campus of Cranfield University in Bedford, a centre of excellence for accident investigation.

He said: "There appears to be little if any detail on staged traffic accidents posted on UK internet sites, but when you switch to a US search engine, there are hundreds of sources, ranging from police forces to private investigators."

Data on fraudulent traffic accidents in the US suggest the cost could be anywhere between £2.5bn and £75bn, but there are no comparable figures available for the UK.

Tissot added: "If insurers called in traffic investigation specialists at an earlier stage we could reduce the cost of claims by clearing up cases more quickly and boosting insurers' fraud detection rates."