General Insurance Article - 'Crash for cash' traffic accidents up 51% according to Aviva

 Fraudulent ‘slam-ons’ – road traffic accidents deliberately caused in order to claim for whiplash compensation – increased by 51% in 2013, according to claims fraud data from Aviva.

 These induced accidents have a value of over £10m and are at the highest levels ever detected by the insurer. In total, Aviva has over 6,000 motor injury claims linked to organised fraud activity and is calling for stronger deterrents whilst warning motorists to be vigilant behind the wheel.

 Tom Gardiner, Head of Claims Fraud at Aviva, said, “The fast growth of induced accidents on our roads is cause for serious concern. Fraudsters are prepared to put the safety of innocent motorists’ and their families and passengers at risk for their own personal gain. Fraudulent accidents also divert significant public resources such as police, ambulances, emergency services and court time away from real need.

 “We believe that convictions for motor injury fraud resulting from induced accidents should result in more custodial sentences that recognise the unique physical harm that this form of insurance fraud poses to motorists, as well as the wider social costs. Stronger sentences will deter would-be fraudsters and help to keep roads safer and premiums lower for customers.”

 Tragically, at least one motorist has been killed as a result of being caught up in an accident deliberately caused by fraudsters, and this risk seems to be increasing. Aviva is telling motorists who are concerned about being caught up in crash for cash how to avoid an accident, and what to do if you are involved in a crash for cash accident.*

 Deterring Fraud

 Data from The Sentencing Council reveals that community orders were the most common sentence handed out for fraud offences since 2004. Aviva believes this does little to deter crash for cash fraudsters from committing – and re-committing – induced accidents.

 Aviva welcomes recent measures from Justice Secretary Chris Grayling which will help to crack down on insurance fraudsters. Specifically, requiring courts to strike out claims where the claimant has been fundamentally dishonest about their injury is something Aviva has been calling for. Currently, even where a fraudster exaggerates his claim often by tens of thousands of pounds, he is still entitled to recover his original claim – and therefore there is little deterrent to discourage fraud.

 There is strong support from the public for fraud convictions to attract stronger sentences. In consumer research**, two out of three (66%) respondents supported stronger sentences for convictions of motor injury fraud, while almost 9 in 10 (87%) felt custodial sentences sent the strongest message.

 ‘Citizens Jury’ Highlights Motorists Reaction

 Aviva organised an independent ‘Citizen’s Jury’, which asked a small group of people for their thoughts on ‘crash for cash’ and their reactions to actual court cases. The results highlighted how emotive motor injury fraud is, driven in particular by the potential for innocent people to be hurt. One member said: ‘People’s lives…have been changed because [fraudsters] are trying to get something they are not entitled to’.

 Fraudsters’ profiting from others’ misfortune provoked strong reactions as well: “It’s a lack of thought for others and the law: their view is ‘I’m just going to do what I want to do.”

 Gardiner concluded, “The reach of crash for cash doesn’t stop at the scene of the accident, but impacts a wider circle of victims. Stronger deterrents, such as those announced by the Ministry of Justice, as well as more proportionate sentencing that recognises the very real threat of physical harm to the victim, will serve to further deter fraudsters, protect the public and keep premiums low for customers.”

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