Foil fraud from behind the wheel
GUELPH, ON, Dec. 9 2010 – As organized fraud related to Ontario auto insurance claims evolves it is not only driving up costs, but also creating new risks for drivers. The Co-operators is reminding Ontario drivers to use caution to avoid being unwitting participants or victims of fraudulent activity.
The problem of fraud has long been a major concern in Ontario, which has the country’s richest auto insurance benefits and the highest costs for drivers. Recently there has been an increase in fraudulent claims from staged collisions, which are car accidents deliberately set up to cash in on payouts from insurance claims. To make the collisions appear more authentic, fraudsters are increasingly involving innocent drivers.
Common tactics that authorities have identified are:
- Target and bullet: staged collisions in which an unsuspecting car is hit intentionally.
- Swoop and squat: a driver slams on their brakes to get an innocent driver to rear-end the vehicle. In some cases, two vehicles are involved in the fraud, causing an innocent third party to rear-end the second vehicle.
- Drive down or Wave-in: a driver exiting a parking lot is “waved in” by a driver on the roadway. The roadway driver accelerates into the merging car once they enter the roadway, intentionally hitting the innocent driver and causing a collision where the innocent driver appears to be at fault.
In these types of collision, the organizers pay their pre-arranged crash victims, tow truck drivers, witnesses and questionable medical clinics to falsify records to profit from insurance payouts.
To avoid becoming involved in a fraudulent accident, stay alert. Be aware of cars following too closely, suddenly cutting you off, or cars occupied by three or more adults that wave you in. If you’re worried about the actions of drivers around you, find a safe parking spot and pull over or wait to enter traffic when you feel it is safer.
If you are involved in a collision, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself from fraud.
- Once you gather the other driver’s information, take pictures of the scene, including the damage to all vehicles involved.
- Count how many people are in the other vehicle(s). Take note of ages and genders, and even obtain names and contact information.
- Collect witness names and contact information.
- Call the police to the scene, file a police report, and keep a copy. Do not take further direction from anyone other than a police officer.
- Be wary if you are pressured or offered money by a tow truck operator to go to a particular body shop, paralegal or medical professional. Ask your insurer for a list of preferred auto shops.
- Make sure all bills are detailed and accurate, medical treatments offered are necessary, and always read forms thoroughly before signing them.
- If you have concerns about how the accident occurred, contact your insurer immediately.
Too often insurance crime is tolerated because it seems victimless, but it affects everyone with insurance in the form of higher premiums. The Co-operators employs specialized investigators and trains all claims staff to keep them up to date on new trends in insurance fraud. If you suspect an incident of fraud, submit a confidential report by calling 1-877-IBC-TIPS or visiting the Insurance Bureau of Canada online. Be sure to also visit their list of the latest fraud alerts.
About The Co-operators:
The Co-operators Group Limited is a 100 per cent Canadian-owned co-operative with more than $42 billion in assets under administration. Through its group of companies, it offers home, auto, life, group, travel, commercial and farm insurance, as well as investment products. The Co-operators is owned by 47 Canadian co-operatives, credit union centrals and like-minded organizations. It is well known for its community involvement and its commitment to creating a more sustainable tomorrow. In 2010, The Co-operators was ranked #2 among the 50 Best Corporate Citizens in Canada and listed among the 50 Best Employers in Canada. For more information visit www.cooperators.ca.