“We think that one of the best ways to combat this issue is through public awareness," said Lindhardsen. "It's of vital importance now that this type of fraud has become a financial threat and a threat to public safety."
What You Need To Know
Being able to recognize auto insurance fraud is the first step in prevention. The people who commit this crime don't necessarily stand out as criminals. Some may be members of large organizations with well-planned, multi-levelled operations that run like a well-oiled machine. Others are merely regular folk who see an opportunity to take advantage of the system.
"We want the public to feel comfortable enough to be able to report suspicious activity when they see it," said Lindhardsen. "For example, one common scenario is that the perpetrator will wave in an innocent driver to merge or change lanes only to then deliberately cause a collision. Or in some cases, they deliberately slam on the brakes and cause a fender-bender. In each situation, the innocent driver is charged with an at-fault accident according to common traffic rules and could be seriously injured from the deliberate collision, while the perpetrator's car is typically full of passengers who claim to need expensive health treatments."
Here are five valuable tips to help you avoid a fraudulent accident:
1. Leave significant space between you and the vehicle ahead in case they brake suddenly.
2. Be wary if someone waves you in to merge or change lanes as they may be setting you up for a collision.
3. Exercise extra caution when making a left-hand turn because the oncoming car, which may seem far away, could deliberately accelerate and hit you.
4. Pay attention when you are driving, as the fraudsters deliberately target distracted drivers – for example, a driver talking on a cell phone.
5. If you are in an accident, be wary if you are pressured or offered money by anyone to use a particular auto body shop, paralegal or medical professional. Ask your insurer for a list of recommended auto body shops.
For more information on how you can protect yourself against auto insurance fraud, visit Desjardins General Insurance at www.dgidirect.ca.