Almost one-third of all deliberate collisions in the past 12 months involve light commercial vehicles
‘White van mans’ are being increasingly targeted by criminals running ‘crash for cash’ fraud rings, according to new research.
Law firm Hill Dickinson said that light commercial vehicles (LCVs) had been involved in almost one-third of all deliberate collisions in the past 12 months.
This new trend was identified after the firm analysed its database of about 10 million insurance claims.
Accident investigation firm APU said fraudsters target professional vehicles like vans because they are most likely to be fully insured and their drivers are often working to a tight deadline, which means they are less likely to dispute liability.
“This is yet another example of how criminal fraud gangs are becoming more sophisticated – they are thinking quite hard about exactly who they target on the roads and it’s based on solid logic,” APU director of investigative services Neil Thomas said.
“Britain’s LCV drivers are a hard-working lot and are very often pushed for time, so they are less likely to stand by the side of the road arguing the case about a collision. The criminals are banking on the fact that they will simply exchange insurance details and move on. It’s cynical but it works.”
Hill Dickinson head of fraud Peter Oakes said: “Fraud generally, and crash for cash incidents, is undoubtedly still on the increase across the UK - with fraudsters looking to take advantage and exploit the weaknesses of the industry.
“More than 17% of induced accidents are perpetrated by individuals who have previously committed fraud, and they are increasingly turning their attention to commercial vehicles.”
Analysis of Hill Dickinson’s Netfoil database found that only one LCV – the Ford Transit – appeared in the top 20 vehicles for general insurance claims.
But the Transit is joined by five other LCVs in the top 20 vehicles targeted in ‘induced accident’ claims. The Transit, Mercedes Sprinter, Vauxhall Vivaro, Citroen Berlingo, Volkswagen Transporter and Tippers account for 31% of induced claims.
One in seven personal injury claims – some 69,500 a year – are linked to suspected crash for cash scams, costing the motor industry £392m annually.
With an average value of £30,000, the crash for cash scam is when a vehicle driven by a member of the fraud gang causes a deliberate collision with that of an innocent victim. Traditionally, this involves the fraudster pulling in front of his chosen target and slamming on the brakes, allowing little time for the innocent party to avoid a collision.
But last summer APU revealed another worrying new tactic - ‘Flash for Crash’ - which involves innocent drivers being beckoned out of a junction by the flash of headlights, only to be hit by the criminals’ car.
The almost undetectable tactic makes it harder for an innocent driver to prove fault in the resulting ‘their word against mine’ dispute.