Most people are inherently honest, particularly in the insurance world. If you’re ever in a car accident you admit that your door has some dents and dings not caused by the most recent accident. Often this can work to your benefit as the insurance adjuster may agree to have your entire door refinished without additional cost to you, or you may obtain a great quote from the auto body shop to fix dents and scratches. Most people realize the value of being honest, and how it can pay back to you doubly. But most of us have heard about those insurance scams where people “set up” an accident and then sue you. It’s important to be aware of these scams so you can either avoid them, or know what to do if it happens to you.
While auto repairs are covered by most insurance companies, where you may run into trouble is when a person claims they were injured from the accident, and then sue you. This often has no bearing on whether the insurance adjuster ruled them at fault. A court case will need to determine whether you were in fact at fault for their injuries. You could be surprised when the other driver seemed perfectly healthy when they walked away from an accident, and then shows up in court in crutches and cast. They may not even pursue a court case, but ask for more money from their insurance company. This is not only dishonest, and of concern to you, because false claims can cause the cost of insurance to increase over the years. Insurance fraud impacts all insurers.
These auto insurance scams are often perpetrated by more than one person. Someone will be a lookout and call ahead to the person in the car. When you drive past a certain point, this car will drive into your car. Often the driver of the car will brush off any damage, saying it’s only a dent or scratch. But they’ll insist on exchanging details with you.
There are some signs that you could be a victim of a scam. If you feel you’re threatened at all, or that you have been injured, call 911. When police are involved, the scammers may be worried, and decide not to pursue the scam.
If no one was injured and it was only minor damage, be sure to take photographs of both of your vehicles. Take photographs of exactly where the accident happened too—at intersection, parking lot, or driveway. You may wish to sneak in photos of the other driver, and their passengers too. Take photographs of their vehicle, and yours.
Don’t let them intimidate you. Look them directly in the eyes and let them know that you will be “reporting” the accident regardless of outcome. This shows that you’re serious. Let them see you’re not rushed—you have all afternoon to document the accident, if need be.
If at any point you feel you are part of a scam, call the police and your insurance company. They can offer you advice in the event that you were set up for an insurance scam. But don’t worry, it’s unlikely the scammer will be preying on you when they see how organized, and astute you appear to be about the situation.