The car in front of you suddenly brakes without warning… and you plough into the back of it. It’s not your fault, but you’re not alone in being a victim of the Crash For Cash insurance fraud. In fact, with nearly 70,000 personal injury claims potentially linked to the scam in the UK alone, it’s fair to call it a phenomenon. It’s already cost lives in America and England.
But motorists across the world are fighting back – with the aid of a small camera fitted to their dashboards.
Battling Crash For Cash
Crash For Cash scams are deliberately-staged ‘accidents’ — they can happen anywhere and to anyone. Those unlikely to cause a fuss are especially targeted, as are lorry drivers. If you’re unlucky enough to be involved in this scam, the fraudsters are likely to make exaggerated claims, most notably: personal injury; vehicle recovery; car hire; and vehicle damage.
The Insurance Fraud Bureau are doing their bit, uncovering 15 fraudulent claims an hour in the UK, but a lot of drivers are turning to dashcams, small cameras that monitor the view from the windscreen. It’s an ever-expanding industry across the world – increasingly popular in the US, Australia and Asia – and is decidedly everyday in Russia; most footage of last year’s Chelyabinsk meteor was captured on dashcams!
Police Witness, which supports drivers by liaising with police and insurance companies, says that “the police are not listening and responding properly to [Crash For Cash victims’] complaints.” With the aid of dashcams, more and more cases are going to court. Dashcams were initially utilised in police cars, but the idea quickly caught on. Footage can be sent to insurance companies as evidence and several annoyed drivers have posted videos to YouTube.
So How Can Dashcams Help?
Dashcams are perfect for capturing Crash For Cash attempts and proving your case to the police and insurers. Despite being early-adopters of the technology, dashcams are being used against cyclists, too. If someone is being dangerous on the roads, dashcams are there as proof.
Fraudsters may actually try to claim compensation for imaginary passengers! A dashcam will have a thing or two to say about that.
Most models also have GPS, so you can prove exactly where an incident happened. They’re largely available with replacement cover, and of course, SD cards can easily expand the device’s storage.
The police are backing the technology (it would be hypocritical otherwise), as are several UK insurers, including Zurich, RAC Insurance and the AA. On behalf of the latter, Ian Crowder proved their significance by posing the question, “will [dashcams] one day become an insurance requirement or will they be built into vehicles at manufacture?” Source: The Independent
Adrian Flux, a car insurance company in the UK, even offers discounts of up to 15% off premiums for those who’ve installed certain makes of dashcams.
Crash For Cash isn’t the only craze when it comes to vehicle insurance fraud — ‘Flash For Crash’ (or ‘Flash for Cash’ to some, but be wary of your results!) involves someone seemingly holding back at a junction and flashing you through, before driving into you. Video from a well-placed dashcam can be used as evidence of their deceit.
But as to whether the law is on your side on the matter… Well, that’s altogether trickier business.
Everything Has Its Downsides…
Obviously, dashcams can’t stop ‘accidents’ from happening, though, in time, they may dissuade fraudsters from carrying them out. However, they could simply result in those without dashcams specifically being targeted, hence more recent designs being more inconspicuous. You can even get dashcam apps for your mobile devices!
Price is also a point of concern. A high definition camera can set you back around $300-350 (obviously, this changes according to country and model), but that doesn’t mean cheaper alternatives are pointless. In fact, most will give you reasonable quality visuals that’ll be good enough to prove a point. The aforementioned apps are generally less than $5. Witness Driving for iOS and Android is generally well-received and is just $0.99. There have been reports that a bug causes the cam to freeze when a call or text is received, however, and it suffers the same drawbacks as similar iOS apps (but we’ll get to that in a minute). There’s a plethora of free apps for Android, all of which are pretty divisive, including AutoGuard Blackbox and DailyRoads Voyager.
One issue is privacy. Dashcams are banned in Austria, and it’s illegal to leave any surveillance equipment on unattended in Sweden. Of course, it’s not so much an issue now, mainly as they’re still in their infancy, but if all cars had one, effectively your every move could be monitored. The newspapers would have a field day.
Then again, video is generally on a loop, so the most recent footage records over the oldest – meaning that you might be recorded, but it probably won’t last that long.
Some users have noted that dashcams can get very hot to touch and that heat makes them freeze up. It’s especially an issue in Australia where summer can bring temperatures exceeding 40°C; in fact, in-car temperatures can reach 66°C! Even apps can cause your phone to overheat (and that’s not to mention the battery drain; smartphones need constant recharging through a car adapter).
And perhaps another disadvantage of dashcams is what else they can expose. We can’t all be perfect drivers all the time, and if an insurer doesn’t think your manoeuvring is up to their own standards, your premium might just increase! That’s one reason so many are refusing to install black boxes into their vehicles.
What we’re saying is: It might just backfire.
As a record of your travels, to combat scams and show up bad driving, dashcams work. In theory.
It’s something none of us really want to think about, but they’re there for an eventuality. As with anything, however, you have to take the rough with the smooth. Even with a dashcam, you might not be believed. Whether the law is on your side or not is down to the actual incident. And would you like cars recording your every move?
In the end, you’re relying on someone else, be them the police or insurers. That’s always been the case, but with that small camera fitted to your dashboard, you’ve got something else on your side.