March is fraud prevention month. Fraud can affect anyone, in any given situation. This includes the automotive and insurance industries. This may sound silly, but one of my biggest fears to be a victim of auto insurance fraud. Auto insurance fraud is a lot more common than many people realize.
Auto insurance fraud ranges from padding legitimate insurance claims to include pre-existing damage to your vehicle, to staged collisions for the purpose of collecting benefits from insurance providers. Auto insurance fraud is a serious issue that puts every driver on the road at risk and deeply impacts the finances of Ontario families.
Recognizing the signs of staged collisions can help drivers protect themselves from insurance crime. Common signs may include the:
· Eye witness suddenly appears at the scene of a collision and immediately assigns blame
· Other driver or their passengers are overly assertive about which driver was at fault
· Driver or their passengers seem fine until authorities arrive and then begin to complain of pain or injuries
· Tow truck suddenly appears at the scene of the collision with a specific recommendation for a lawyer or medical/rehabilitation clinic
If you are involved in a car collision, you can protect yourself from insurance fraud by taking these steps: · Stay calm. It’s easier said then done, but crucial.
· Check for injuries. Your life and general well-being is more important than your damaged vehicle. Your car can be replaced. You’re irreplaceable.
· If the accident is minor and there are no serious injuries, move cars to a safe place, rather than risk being in moving traffic
· Turn on hazard lights. If warranted, and possible, use cones, warning triangles, or flares for safety
· Write down the names, addresses, insurance information and licence numbers of persons involved in the accident. Include a description of the other vehicles. Note specific damages to all vehicles involved
· Jot down names and addresses of anyone who may have witnessed the accident. This can prevent disagreement concerning how the accident actually happened
· Notify your insurance agent or broker about the accident immediately
· Be polite; do not accuse the other drivers of being at fault at this time. Most people are shaken up immediately after an accident, and it is wise to state only the facts. Limit your discussion of the collision to the insurance agent and the police
· If you have a camera handy, and it is safe to do so, it can be helpful to photograph the accident scene
· Finally, remember that while getting the facts is very important, investigating the accident should be left to the police officers and the insurance companies
If you are ever involved in a collision and suspect auto insurance fraud, call 1-877-IBC-TIPS and report the details.