14:02 28 April 2010
The UKs top 10 'crash for cash' hotspots have been identified in new campaign to reduce the number of fake accidents created to defraud insurance companies and strip motorists of their hard earned cash.
The report by insurer Direct Line revealed that drivers in the north are the most likely to suffer the efforts fraudsters than those in the south.
It is estimated that these type of bogus claims cost honest customers over £4 million every week, adding an average of £44 to the annual costs individual policyholders each year and delaying payments for genuine claims.
'Crash for cash' schemes often involve fraudsters faking accidents by making unnecessary emergency stops at busy roundabouts or slip roads, forcing motorists to crash into them.
They then make bogus claims to the innocent motorists insurer for damage, as well as often including fictitious injuries such as whiplash.
The top five hotspots were all north of the border with Manchester's Centenary Way in Trafford Park proving the most popular scam location.
But four separate sections on and near to Lancashire's M65 took the second, third, fourth and ninth spots.
At the East Lancashire sites, as many as one in 25 smashes could be being staged by fraudsters.
It is estimated that fraudulent insurance claims cost the industry £350 million every year, adding an average of £44 to premiums for honest motorists, while the scams also delay payouts on genuine claims at known hotspots by up to three weeks.
The research has led a prominent road safety charity to demand courts hand over harsh sentences to criminals who stage the 'horrifying' mock crashes, said to cost insurers millions each year.
Campaigns officer for road safety charity Brake, Ellen Booth, said: It is simply horrifying that anyone is willing to purposely cause a crash to claim insurance fraudulently.
This is an incredibly serious issue and anyone found intentionally putting themselves and other innocent drivers at risk by causing crashes should face serious consequences under the law.
Direct Line's sophisticated monitoring of data and coordinated nationwide investigations means its anti-fraud team are aware of hundreds of sites that have been used by fraudsters, enabling them to catch the perpetrators and bring them to justice.
Further analysis has enabled Direct Line to map the entire country to highlight evidence of suspicious claims and determine the worst hotspots for the scams.
By utilising this information alongside specially developed technology and methodology, Direct Line is able to catch fraudsters more easily and quickly. The top ten hotspots include roundabouts and slip roads throughout the UK.
Kate Lotts, director of specialist claims at Direct Line said: "Crash for cash scams pose a significant risk to public safety. As well as adding to the cost of insurance, they delay payouts on genuine claims as any reported accident at a known scam site has to undergo additional investigations. Just the actions of a few, can cost motorists a significant amount of money and pose a real threat to people's lives.
"Our investigation systems mean that we can pinpoint areas of concern and the hotspots are just a small proportion of the data that we share with the rest of the insurance industry. We will not tolerate fraudsters and always push for the harshest penalties, as we have a duty to protect our customers. Every pound taken by a fraudster is a pound taken from honest motorists."
Top 10 crash for cash Hot Spots
1. Centenary Way, Trafford Park, Manchester
2. Haslingden roundabout, Junction 5, M65
3. Scotland Road roundabout, Junction 13, M65
4. Gannow Top roundabout, Cavalry Way, Burnley
5. Eden Point roundabout, A34, Stockport
6. Denham roundabout, M40
7. Jarman Park, A414, Hemel Hempstead
8. Parkway Uxbridge Road A312 / A4020
9. Port Way / Strand Road junction , Preston
10. Junction 24 roundabout, M25
Tips to protect yourself against fraudsters
If you suspect someone in front of you is driving erratically give them as wide a berth as possible
In the event of an accident, record as much detail as possible - including names, addresses and dates of birth of claimants
Make a note of how many people are in the other vehicle
If possible, take photographs with your mobile phone
Get full names and addresses of any witnesses
Make sure you highlight concerns to your insurer
You can report information free of charge to the Insurance Fraud Bureau confidential hotline on 0800 328 2550 or online at www.insurancefraudbureau.org/report
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