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Can Dashcams Stop ‘Crash For Cash’ Fraud?

Philip Bates 02-03-2014

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 How to Make Your Own Dashcam For Your Car or Bike There are so many awesome uses for an old smartphone – but have you considered setting it up as a dashcam? Read More .

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.

Dashcam 2

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


Dashcam 1

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 Action Cam – A Dashboard Camera For Windows Phone 8 Need to keep a video record of journeys in case of an accident and subsequent insurance claim? For Windows Phone users, Action Cam is a strong choice, but will it do the job reliably? Read More !

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 [No Longer Available] 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.

Can Dashcams Stop 'Crash For Cash' Fraud? witness driving

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.

Dashcam 3

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 iOS 5 Battery Drain: Save Some Juice With These Top Tips [iPhone, iPad & iPod Touch] By now you’re either in love with iOS 5, Notification Centre and vastly improved page rendering times - or you’re banging your head against a brick wall wondering why your device no longer lasts a... Read More ; smartphones need constant recharging through a car adapter 5 Ways To Charge Your Phone In An Emergency Smartphones can be important tools in an emergency. Besides providing the chance to call for help, a phone can act as a flashlight, compass and GPS. But all of a phone’s functions rely on the... Read More ).

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.

Let’s Rewind

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.

Related topics: Digital Camera, Scams.

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  1. John
    March 6, 2014 at 4:40 am

    If you're thinking of fitting one to your car just check on the rules for your country. There's a rule in the UK that you should not be able to see the little screen on the back of the camera when you are driving. This might impact on the phone apps where the screen is lit up with the camera view.
    I mounted mine on the screen behind my rearview mirror just in case.

  2. James B
    March 3, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    I'm all for dash cams and CCTV. People get quite angry about CCTV when it's landed them with a parking fine, but the solution is pretty simple: don't park illegally. If I could cut the of my insurance with a black box and dash cam, I would gladly do it. The only people who wouldn't are those who break the law, so we can put their premiums up ;)

    Just, don't monitor my internet, mmmkay....

  3. Rob H
    March 3, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Got one, front and rear cameras and GPS positioning. Bought from hong kong, for about GBP60. Despite rubbish documentation and controls that didn't quite match the documentation, it does just sit there and track everything. I can replay on a PC with a side by side view of video plus map location (fun to replay a journey at 4x speed!). In theory it can record incidents when the car is parked and unoccupied too (like another vehicle hits yours in a car-park or vandalism) but not yet worked out how to set that up.
    I got it partly because I saw an accident happen in front of me when I was driving and didn't recall it clearly enough to really be able to say what the cause was - so much happens in a second or two and your main focus of attention is your own safety in those circumstances.

    As for "cash for crash" I don't understand why the insurers don't pool ALL claims data (for all involved parties) because the guys who make fake claims will do it repeatedly on "had my mobile phone stolen", "had a house break-in", "got whiplash in a minor driving accident" etc...

    I've heard stories of police or insurers saying "can't do anything, it's your word against his, no winesses" then being delighted to be told "...but I've got a video of the whole event..."

    I understand the (UK) police are getting unsolicited dash-cam videos of illegal driving sent in to them and are acting on some. Not done it but I did capture video of a guy who decided to overtake on the inside on a narrow road so had to drive on the pavement (sidewalk for American readers!).

    As for insurers in future requiring a dashcam: maybe not a requirement but at least discounts as some already do if you fit a tracker, especially young (high risk) drivers where they can track driving above the speed limit, high G forces (braking and cornering too fast), location (if you insure the vehicle as if based at your parents house in a low car-crime risk area but actually live and keep it in a high risk area), driving hours (23:00 to 06:00 are highest risk times for young drivers). One insurer quoted GBP10,000 to insure him (to drive a small engined very "unexciting" car that cost half that amount) for his first year after passing the test. The cheapest quote from insurance comparison sites was still GBP5,000. With a tracker and a ban on driving between 23:00 and 06:00 another insurer covered him for "only" GBP3,000. Many young drivers register the car as belonging to a parent with the youngster as a "second named driver" but if the parent has and normally uses another car the insurer will regard that as fraudulent (they call it "fronting").
    Anything to make young drivers safer is of course welcome and it's a great bonus if it legitimately reduces the cost of insurance too.

    On the subject of road safety, an alarming statistic: Motorcyclists represent 1% of traffic yet account for 20% of the deaths and serious injuries on UK roads.

  4. thecolor
    March 2, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    You should never be so close to someone that if they suddenly stop you hit them. It IS partly your fault if you're riding their @$$.

    • Daniel K
      March 3, 2014 at 5:00 am


    • James B
      March 3, 2014 at 1:04 pm

      Tailgating is illegal now in the UK too, so it'd be funny to see some of the dash cam "evidence" used against the driver who submitted it.

    • K. I. Matt
      March 4, 2014 at 5:14 am

      It's about the scammers who dodge in front of you and hit the brakes, or are in cahoots with a car directly in front of you and pull the same on them. It's not about tailgating, it' s about the scammers taking advantage. Also, if your read the article there are other scams such as the number of people in the car, etc. The whole point is to get the bad guys. A good insurance rep and/or the police can tell the difference.
      Quit being a smart-a$$. If you haven't something to add to the discussion, keep it to yourself.

    • Philip Bates
      March 4, 2014 at 11:05 am

      Thanks for commenting, everyone.
      K.I. Matt is right: it's rarely about tailgating. Generally, it's not a reflection on your own driving; it's just about whether you're targeted. There are some interesting videos on YouTube showing perfectly good drivers narrowly avoiding scammers who cut in front of you or seem to pull off at traffic light before suddenly stopping. Even if you've not crashed into them, you've still been targeted and that dashcam footage is still handy.
      I do advise you seek out some dashcam videos.