Motor insurance fraud is on the increase and just about anybody could find themselves becoming the next victim.
This kind of fraud will usually involve a staged accident, where others are coerced to make claims on their insurance, and collect payouts under the pretence of personal injury or car repairs.
The fact that most of these scams involve large-scale syndicates means that victims often feel helplessly pressured into complying with their “requests” out of fear.
Since the payouts are ultimately the burden of insurance companies, victims may initially think that their financial loss is limited.
However, if you are scammed into making a claim on your insurance, it can definitely hurt you in the form of higher car insurance premiums in the foreseeable future.
Here are three simple steps you can take to avoid falling victim to car insurance fraud.
Install a dashboard camera
The first rule of car insurance is that the party at fault is responsible for paying the necessary costs for the required repairs and medical treatment that results from the accident.
The problem with insurance fraud however, is that the people who staged the accident can accuse others of having caused the crash.
It can be surprisingly easy to fall victim to these kinds of scams right after being involved in an accident because you are in shock, confused or pressured into accepting the blame.
You could try taking photos of the scene, but evidence can be tampered with, especially when the accident is orchestrated by others.
Besides, when everyone around is accusing you, it can be difficult to make a persuasive case that you are not at fault without visual evidence.
If you have a dashboard camera, however, you can provide a video recording of the accident from start to finish to help prove your case to your insurance company and any other legal authority.
It could also help to get the other party’s insurer to agree to compensate you for your losses and keep your premium from rising as a result of the accident.
In such a situation, having a dashboard camera installed in your car could save you a lot of money.
Call the police as soon as you’re involved in an accident
Unless you are willing to resolve the damages from the accident with cash, meaning it was nothing but a minor scratch that can be resolved with under RM100, the first thing you should do after getting into a car accident is call the police.
By calling the police and your insurance company, you can make sure that everything will be reported on a fair basis, and that you will be protected from any unreasonable pressure to fall victim of a scam.
Even if you actually caused the accident, there’s not much downside to calling the authorities since your insurance premium will rise regardless, and at least you can protect yourself from the emotional responses of other people.
When either the police or the insurance company’s authorities arrive, the scammer will probably be more likely to leave you alone.
Rely on your insurer’s approved workshop
Even if you were to skip the first two steps discussed here, you should always resist using the tow-service or workshop “recommended” by other people involved in the accident.
Sometimes, scammers are known to lure unsuspecting victims to certain repair workshops or tow-truck operators that overcharge so that they can collect referral fees behind your back.
Instead, you should always call your insurer’s hotline for a tow truck and further advice on how to proceed. Unless the accident is so minor that you can take care of the cost in cash, you are going to need your insurance company’s help about whether you are at fault or not.
What’s more, relying on your insurer’s authorised workshop can also be a great way to save on your insurance premium and get genuine repair services, as insurers themselves are incentivised to minimise the cost that could result from subpar repairs and further damages to your car.
If you’ve already been scammed…
Insurers themselves are also very motivated to detect and investigate these cases as insurance fraud is literally costing them hundreds of millions a year.
If you believe you are paying a higher car insurance premium because you were likely a victim of a scam, helping catch these scammers could help you make an appeal to your insurance company to rectify an unfair situation.
This article first appeared in thenewsavvy.com
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