Scam Alert: Watch out for Staged Auto Accidents

This is a guest post from Renaissance Alliance member Ross Insurance Agency based on a post that was previously featured on the Ross blog.
Car accidents are a dangerous and unpleasant fact of modern life. Even the best driver will probably be involved in a car accident at least once during their driving years; statistically, one out of sixteen Americans will be in an accident each year, with the odds somewhat higher for young drivers. Even when accidents don’t involve injuries, you don’t want your insurance rates to go any higher. The last thing that anyone wants is to be involved in a car accident, or so you would think.
Unfortunately, that just doesn’t hold true for criminals. The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud warns about staged car accidents – a common form of car insurance fraud. These faked accidents have been taken to a new level in Florida, where faked accidents often come complete with fake medical claims filed at fake clinics. Florida, a no fault state, seems to be particularly plagued with this kind of scam activity. As a result Florida drivers pay up to 65% more than drivers in other states for their car insurance.
We aren’t immune to staged accidents happening here in New England, either – last spring, the Attorney General’s office busted a Massachusetts auto fraud ring. A lawyer, a chiropractor and another person were convicted of working in cahoots to commit insurance fraud and larceny after staging several accidents. .
Avoiding Staged Auto Accidents

  • Know what to look for. The Coalition link above has an article that describes the four most common types of scams – get familiar with them
  • Keep alert. Most scams rely on you being distracted either right before the accident or at the point of the accident.
  • Call police if you are in an accident. It can be tempting to ignore minor fender benders, but better safe than sorry.
  • Don’t trust your memory. With mobile phones, it makes it easy to document the scene of an accident. In addition to exchanging information, take photos of the accident scene, any vehicle damage, and the passengers in the other car.
  • Report suspicious events. If you suspect fraud, call your state insurance fraud bureau (here’s a link to the Massachusetts Insurance Fraud Bureau) or report it to the National Insurance Crime Bureau if you suspect a scam. The toll-free number is 1-800-835-6422 (24 hours a day, seven days a week).