Growing numbers of motorists are turning to in-car cameras to help slam the brakes on fraudsters responsible for adding millions of pounds to insurance premiums.
Figures from the Insurance Fraud Bureau show that so-called ‘crash for cash’ scams are rising, costing the UK insurance industry £392m a year, with 1-in-7 personal injury claims thought to be linked to a staged accident.
But motorists are fighting back thanks partly to the growing number and affordability of dash or screen-mounted cameras able to record incidents in high-quality HD.
Insurers and prosecutors can use video evidence to not only help identify who was at fault in an accident, but also help bring those guilty of fraud to justice.
The falling cost of cameras, increasing choice and publicity surrounding fraudulent claims has resulted in a perfect storm for the industry.
Ian Bellamy, of online retailer carcamerashop.co.uk, said lower prices, greater awareness and the potential for discounted insurance premiums had seen sales increase.
“Crash for cash and similar scams are now much better known thanks to features on the BBC and a documentary on C4 dedicated to the phenomena,” he added.
“There’s also been an increase in footage from in-car cameras on websites like YouTube from Russia and parts of Asia, where the cameras have been in more mainstream use for much longer.
“And, as with all tech products, prices have reduced over time in much same way they did with sat nav systems, making them more affordable to a wider market.”
Retail prices range from £85 for a basic yet effective model to £380 for the top of the range BlackVue with cameras facing front and rear.
But with big discounts off insurance premiums available for those who have a fitted, working camera, the up-front cost can pale compared to the savings, and peace of mind, on offer.
Adrian Flux offers up to 15 per cent dash cam insurance discount for motorists who fit a camera, with general Gerry Bucke explaining: “Because these cameras cut down on the likelihood of fraudulent claims being successful, some insurers are willing to offer substantial discounts to premiums which will more than make up for the cost of the camera very quickly.
“Young drivers with an average premium pushing £2000 can save up to £300 in just one year – effectively paying for the camera in one hit.
“We also find that, although the cameras don’t act as a ‘black box’ to monitor driver behaviour, they do help to encourage safer driving.”
Saving money on your insurance and helping to cut fraudulent claims are just two of many reasons why this fledgling industry is growing.
Will in-car cameras soon be as common as sat nav or in-car phone systems? They just might.
What is ‘crash for cash’?
Crash for cash scams often involve induced accidents, where innocent drivers are induced to become the ‘at fault’ party by crashing into fraudsters using a variety of methods.
Fake injury claims are then submitted and the innocent motorist’s insurers have to pay up, resulting in a claim against the motorist’s record and potential loss of no claims bonus.
Scammers use a variety of methods to induce an accident, including:
Disconnecting their rear brake lights then braking suddenly in the hope that the following driver will have little time to react and hit them from behind
Flashing a driver to allow them to enter the traffic and then driving into them, claiming they pulled out (known as ‘flash for cash’)
Using placed ‘witnesses’ at the scenes of accidents to give misleading information to police to make it look like the accident was your fault
Using multiple vehicles to create a crash situation and confuse the picture for police and insurance companies
Current list of cameras discounted by Adrian Flux
Auto Eye UK
MI Witness HD Camera
Black Vue – 380 & 400 G.HD
Exeros HD Car Cameras -l HD 1080P model with in-built speed camera detection
Roadhawk Forward Facing DC1
Novus System – View I Ruby and Silver Systems
TTW Black Vue Cameras
Next Base InCarCam – Lite / Deluxe / Professional Models