Relatively minor fender benders can become major headaches if you run into the wrong person. Some people see minor accidents as opportunities to take advantage of the situation and file insurance claims for thousands of dollars worth of damages they couldn't have possibly sustained. In fact, fraudulent claims account for $80 billion in insurance losses every year and can make your premiums skyrocket. Here are two tips for fighting back against these types of fraudulent claims.
Start at the Accident Scene
Protecting yourself from a fraudulent claim starts the moment the accident occurs. There are several things you should do at the scene to minimize your chances of being taken advantage of and help build your defense if the other party tries to get more from you than they're due.
First, all accidents should be reported to the police. If the incident is too minor for the agency to send an officer to the scene, go to the nearest station as soon as possible to file a report to get the incident on record.
Second, use your smartphone camera to take pictures of both your cars to document the damage (or no damage as it may be). These can come in handy if the person tries to claim repair amounts that exceed what is normal for the type of accident you were involved in. Additionally, try to get pictures or a video recording of the other driver and anyone who was in the vehicle, especially if they decline medical treatment at the time. It can take awhile for injuries to appear, but your images and video could be used to disprove fraudulent or inflated injury claims.
Third, get the names and contact information of the other driver as well as any witnesses that may have seen what happened. Make note of businesses or government devices (e.g. stoplight) in the area, because they may have cameras that caught the accident on tape. If you notice some of the businesses have security cameras or see cameras on poles nearby, contact those businesses or the Department of Transportation to see if you can get a copy of the tape for your records.
Lastly, avoid admitting any fault for the accident and be wary if the other driver immediately tries to claim you were liable for the incident. Be as non-committal as possible, and only talk about the facts if the police requests a statement.
Review All Claims to Your Insurance Company
After the accident, it's important to watch for and review any claim submitted against your insurance policy. Ask for copies of the claim and read what the other person is alleging happened and the damages the individual is asking for. It's important to dispute any and all inaccuracies as soon as possible. If you don't dispute the fraudulent claim and the insurance adjuster doesn't notice anything amiss, the company will pay the claim and you'll enjoy higher premiums as your reward.
Therefore, it's important to submit a statement disputing inaccuracies in the other person's claim. Provide the insurance company with evidence (e.g. pictures, audio recordings, etc.) backing up your statements. If you suspect the other party is inflating their claim or attempting insurance fraud, share your suspicions with the agent handling your case. Typically, the insurance adjuster will take a closer look at the claim and enact any anti-fraud measures needed to prevent the person from collecting more than they're truly owed.
Fighting back against insurance fraud is important for so many reasons, but most importantly you'll avoid suffering higher insurance rates for paying a claim you don't really owe. For more information about this issue or help disputing a fraudulent claim in court, contact an attorney from a firm like Clearfield & Kofsky.
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