Few things derail your fleet operations as quickly as accidents. And to find out your fleet has been staged in an accident, makes things go from bad to worse. While most people view road accidents as tragic and financially threatening, a rising number of criminals see them as an opportunity to commit insurance fraud for financial gain.
Years ago, staged auto accidents were a minor threat that received little attention, but times have changed. Staged accidents involve sophisticated tactics that can be difficult to spot, especially when a person involved is distressed by a recent accident. Fleet vehicles are often targeted for a staged crash since most fleet owners would rather pay for the damages than get into a legal battle.
Understanding the hallmarks of a staged accident ahead of time will help you detect if you are in that position. Furthermore, knowing what procedures to take if you suspect staged accident fraud helps ensure you have the necessary evidence and paperwork to give to your insurance carrier. We will cover just those topics in this blog.
What is a Staged Crash?
An accident staged in order to obtain money via insurance fraud is known as a staged vehicle crash. Drivers will purposefully engage in risky behavior with unsuspecting drivers, such as brake checking other vehicles, in order to create collisions. Scammers employ manufactured accidents to claim compensation since the consequences, such as rear-ending, appear to point to the victim as the blame.
These schemes are frequently sophisticated, with planted witnesses used to validate the scammers’ account of events. They may even transport several individuals in the automobile in order to enhance the magnitude of the claim. They know precisely what they’re doing and where to look for the finest targets.
Unfortunately, these are frequently corporate vehicles. Serious accidents targeting fleet trucks and vehicles are often far more expensive than those involving individual drivers. Frauds may choose to sue fleet owners for more funds since big corporations may be more ready to reach an agreement. Even if your drivers are doing everything correctly, these factors put them at risk.
What does a Staged Accident look like?
Though all staged fleet accidents are unique in their own way, there are a few tell-tale signs that may help you differentiate between a real and a staged accident. Here are 6 common staged accident indicators:
The start-and-stop movement is common in congested areas. The scammer begins to accelerate quickly before slamming on the brakes.
When it is safe to proceed, one driver changes lanes. At the same time, a scammer swoops in from the other lane.
Three cars are involved in this scenario. One scammer plays the ‘squat,’ while another plays the ‘swoop.’ The squat vehicle overtakes the innocent fleet truck driver, while the swoop vehicle overtakes the squat. The swoop car slams on its brakes, prompting the squat vehicle to do the same. The unsuspecting fleet vehicle bangs into the squat, clearly unaware of the unexpected stop.
A scammer accelerates up to crash you as you pass through an intersection. They have bogus witnesses to accuse you of running a stop sign or a traffic light while it was on red.
This might happen in a parking structure or on the road. One vehicle signals an innocent driver to change lanes or reverse out of a parking spot. The imposter then collides with the innocent driver who is backing out or changing lanes. Will the fraudster acknowledge they gave the green light? Obviously not.
This is possibly the most prevalent kind of staged accident. It’s simple: stomp on the brakes while another vehicle approaches.
How to avoid Staged Accidents?
While the best defense against a staged fleet crash is driving carefully and being vigilant, here are 5 tips you can use to protect your fleet:
- Educate your drivers
The most basic thing you need to know to avoid a staged accident is the education of your drivers. Your drivers should be able to identify signs of a staged fleet crash to properly tackle it if the situation arises.
- Invest in a dashcam
The greatest solution to avoid staged accident fraud is to use video evidence. Capturing the events leading up to the crash plainly demonstrates what happened, putting the whole burden on the other driver. When dealing with your insurance provider or the police, this footage is critical. Your dash cam footage is especially important in cases involving phony witnesses.
- Instruct drivers to take lots of pictures and videos
Urge your drivers to use their phones to picture all damage done to the suspected fraudster’s vehicle, as well as everyone in the vehicle, as soon as possible. This limits their capacity to dramatize the damage to their car. Pay close attention to the number of persons in the other car and make a note of each person’s contact information.
Take images of the involved automobiles from every angle, paying careful attention to the damage. Also, photograph the number plate of the other vehicle.
- Mandate safe driving using driver scorecards
The greatest approach to avoiding staged accidents is to drive cautiously. By implementing driver scorecards, you can incentivize safe driving. Keep an eye out for dangerous drivers. Never be distracted by your phone or passengers. Avoid dangerous activities like tailgating or driving through stop signs. Most importantly, advise drivers to keep their eyes on the road. The quicker you react to a terrible driver, the less probable it is that you will hit them.
- Train your drivers on proper accident procedures
The steps required in these scenarios should be included in your driver training. After an accident, the first thing any driver should do is call the police. Following that, drivers must collect the contact details of all involved in the incident, including witnesses. Official processes should be followed regardless of how small the crash is or what the other party thinks.
Benefits of using Commercial Dashcams for Staged Fleet Accidents
Data does not lie even though frauds do. To refute false accusations, use your vehicle’s commercial dashcam data in conjunction with footage from the driver safety solution. Here is a list of false claims that a scammer might use to accuse your driver of causing the accident and what data a dashcam can provide to overrule it:
Hypothetical Accusation #1: Your driver was overspeeding.
Dashcam Solution: Dashcams provide footage if a fleet vehicle is within or over the posted speed limit.
Hypothetical Accusation #2: Your driver accelerated or braked harshly.
Dashcam Solution: In case this is false, dashcam alerts can be set to alert fleet managers of harsh acceleration or braking. Additionally, the video footage may prove that the driver accelerated or hit the brakes harshly to avoid collisions.
Hypothetical Accusation #3: Your driver was responsible for a hit-and-run.
Dashcam Solution: Dashcams provide accurate location information of the vehicles at all times. This can prove that your fleet vehicle was nowhere near the collision.
Hypothetical Accusation #4: Your driver sideswiped another vehicle.
Dashcam Solution: Dashcam footage can indicate whether or not the engine of the vehicle was running or not and whether the vehicle was parked.
Although insurance fraud can have numerous forms, manufactured accidents have grown in popularity. If you’ve ever been in a collision, you know how chaotic it can be as you try to piece the puzzle together with the right parties to determine culpability. You can assess the specific conditions of the accident using technology such as LocoNav’s dashcam platform. From the vehicle’s speed to the real footage.
Make sure you’re equipped with the correct tools and solutions that will provide you with the best information and awareness of how to handle an accident in order to determine if you’ve been involved in attempted fraud.
What is an example of a staged auto collision?
Brake-Slam is possibly the most prevalent kind of staged accident. It’s simple: stomp on the brakes while another vehicle approaches, forcing them to crash into your vehicle.
What are the penalties of being found staging a fleet crash?
Minor fraud is when the conditions of a crash are exaggerated for insurance purposes. Major fraud is when a crash is deliberately caused to claim an insurance payout. Depending on the type of fraud, jail time can range from 6 months to 3 years with a fine decided by a judge.
Why is there an increase in staged accidents?
The growing population, declining job opportunities, and a general urge to earn some quick money have led to an increase in staged accidents. Most companies would rather settle outside the court than contest a staged accident, and scammers know and leverage that.