Steer clear of car accident scams

Buckeye Farm News

Insurance fraud costs each American household hundreds of dollars a year in higher premiums. As a driver, don’t find yourself a victim of one of the most common insurance frauds – the staged traffic accident.

Don’t be a victim of auto insurance fraud

You can protect yourself from becoming a victim of staged car accidents. Here’s how:

Use your cell phone to photograph damage, vehicle locations before they’re moved, and even the participants in an accident you suspect may be staged.

Always carry a pen and notepad to record names and contact information for others involved in the accident.

Never confront other drivers, make accusations or attempt to get their names or photos if you feel threatened or are in danger.

If you’re not able to take pictures, do your best to note the number of people involved, their physical descriptions and where they were in the vehicles at the time of the crash.

Never move into lanes of travel that you cannot see to be clear, regardless of indications by other drivers that it is safe to do so.

Here are five of the most common schemes:

1. “Swoop and Squat” – TWO vehicles are used to trap a victim in a rear-end collision. The first passes (“swoops”), while the other pulls alongside the victim’s vehicle to prevent it from changing lanes. Then, the vehicle in front slams on its brakes (“squats”) – causing the victim to rear-end them.

2. “Drive Down” – The unsuspecting driver is usually attempting to turn left onto a multi-lane road from a parking lot or side street in heavy traffic. As he waits for a break in traffic, another vehicle stops to allow him in the flow. However, when the victim pulls in, the other driver crashes into the car –– claiming to never have stopped to let the innocent driver in. Police often charge the victim with failing to yield to oncoming traffic.

3. “Wave Down” – Similar to the “Drive Down,” this scheme involves two vehicles. The first stops to wave the victim driver out of a parking lot or side street, indicating it is clear and safe to enter the far lanes. Meanwhile, the second scam vehicle is in the far lane and hidden by the traffic in the near lane. As the victim pulls forward, the second vehicle collides with them. Even if it is determined that the first driver waved the victim out, the victim is still at fault, since they must “see their way clear,” regardless of whether anyone else indicates it is safe to proceed.

4.  “Enhanced Damages” – The accident is legitimate and one of the parties is at fault. The scam occurs when the not-at-fault driver causes additional damage to his own vehicle to inflate the claim. What may have been a minor scratch has become a major dent.

5. “Jump Ins” – Again, the victim is actually at fault in an accident. At the time of the crash, the other vehicle contains a driver and passenger. Later, however, the driver and passenger claim there were others in the vehicle, as well — and they, too, were injured.

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