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With a recent report from the Insurance Fraud Bureau highlighting Birmingham as the UK capital for “crash for cash” scams, you can understand why the sales of dashcams has risen through the roof over the past few years. Leading car insurers such as Swiftcover and the AA have also accepting dashcam footage as evidence in claim cases since 2015, which is further incentive to have one always recording during a journey, as this footage could make or break your claim if you are the innocent party.

Rise in “Crash for Cash” scams

“Crash for Cash” scams have always been a problem, as drivers purposely induce an accident to make an insurance claim – this can be for many reasons but most have a financial motivation, such as claims for personal injury, loss of earnings, and vehicle damage that needs to be repaired/the vehicle replaced. However, there has been a sharp rise in the number of such scams being reported over the past 5 years, and an increase in the number of gangs operating on the roads to organise such accidents.

Once upon a time, the most common claim in a “crash for cash” accident was for whiplash, which cannot be easily proven and as such was an ‘easy’ claim to make a bit of cash on; however, insurance companies began to crack down on this a few years ago. As such, criminals have started to create more serious accidents so they have more convincing evidence with which to make a claim on the other driver’s insurance.

A typical “crash for cash” accident used to be causing a rear end shunt by braking sharply for no reason, which would cause the car behind perhaps minimal damage but still enabled whiplash claims to be made; these days, criminal gangs have been known to cause much more serious accidents in the hope of getting bigger payouts. Not now content with just causing rear end collisions, gangs have been known to flash drivers out of a junction and then speed up to hit them, disconnect their brake lights so the driver behind isn’t aware they are braking, and even damaging their own cars prior to a collision to make the damage look more serious than it is. As such, serious injuries to all parties are on the rise, as are the costs of the claims being made.

Using dash cam footage in a claim

Understandably, anyone caught up in such a scam is going to be pretty annoyed at being classed the guilty party for hitting a driver who deliberately caused the accident, but until recently, if you hit someone from the rear, you were the one at fault with no evidence to prove otherwise. Dash cams have changed this, for the better, as the recorded footage is now used as evidence by many major insurers to properly allocate the blame and claim accordingly.

Police across the country have also started to take the dash cam culture more seriously; in North Wales, Operation Snap allows motorists to upload their footage of dangerous drivers for the police to use and prosecute where necessary. Any recordings of accidents caused by dangerous driving can also be sent to the police as evidence.

Essential for drivers

So, are dash cams an essential for all those using the roads? Well, they’re not a legal obligation (at the moment), but there are many who say they wouldn’t drive without one recording. With prices ranging anywhere from around £30 into the hundreds, there are many models to choose from and it’s better to be safer than sorry when it comes to being out there on the road, or at least we think so. It’s not just scammers who cause accidents; there are many other incidences out there of collisions caused by a multitude of reasons, and the more evidence the better for sorting out who / what was at fault and how blame should be allocated.

For more information on Crash for Cash scams and identifying signs, please visit the IFB website.