If you’ve been in an accident that you believe may have been staged, knowing how to handle the situation properly can go a long way.
A staged accident is a criminal activity that’s been on the rise recently and can lead to car insurance fraud, increased premiums, and even fraudulent at-fault allegations against unsuspecting drivers.
We’ll provide expert advice on how to deal with a staged accident, what you can expect from your insurance company, and how long these claims may stay on your record.
Read on to learn some thorough tips for identifying staged car accidents.
What is a staged accident?
A staged accident is a type of insurance fraud where criminals deliberately cause an accident in order to collect money from the insurance company.
The perpetrators may use different tactics to cause the accident, such as brake-checking the victim’s car or purposely swerving into oncoming traffic.
Example of a Staged Accident
Say you’re driving down the highway when the car in front of you suddenly brake-checks you.
You swerve to avoid a collision, but end up sideswiping the car next to you. The driver of the car that brake-checked you then speeds off, leaving you stranded and confused.
In this example, the driver who brake-checked you deliberately caused the accident in order to collect money from your insurance company. This is a type of fraud known as “Crash for Cash.”
Other Types of Staged Accidents
Unfortunately, there are other ways that criminals can stage an accident. Some of the most common types of staged accidents include:
- The “Swoop and Squat”: This is when a driver cuts you off, forcing you to brake suddenly, causing the vehicle behind you to rear-end you. This vehicle behind you is often driven by an accomplice of the driver who cut you off.
- The “Miss and Run”: This is when a driver causes you to crash your car without actually colliding into you, then speeds away. An example of this may be a driver intentionally swerving towards you, forcing you to react and turn sharply into a guardrail or another roadside obstacle.
- The “Wave On”: This is when a targeted vehicle that does not have the right of way is “waved on” by pedestrians waiting to cross the road. When the targeted vehicle commences, a criminal drives their car into the targeted vehicle, claiming the targeted vehicle caused the accident.
Now that you’re familiar with some of the different types of staged accidents, you’ll be better prepared to identify them should any of these ever happen to you.
The next step, then, to prepare for is how to handle the situation.
How to Handle a Staged Accident
If you find yourself in a staged accident, the best thing to do is to stay calm and call the police. Do not admit fault or offer to pay for any damages, as this could be used against you later. Get the contact information of any witnesses, and take photographs of the scene if possible.
Remember, the goal is to collect as much evidence as possible, as some types of staged accidents like the Miss and Run leave behind very little. This will help your insurance company determine who is at fault, and help you avoid any fraudulent at-fault allegations.
Once you have gathered all the evidence you can, the next step is to contact your insurance company. Be sure to have all your facts and evidence ready, as the insurance adjuster will likely ask you many questions.
What to Expect from Your Insurance Company
Once you have reported the accident to the police, you should contact your insurance company and let them know what happened.
Be sure to give them all of the relevant information, such as the police report number and any witness statements or photographs that you have. It can also be a good idea to get a copy of your own medical records in case you need to file a personal injury claim.
Here are the steps you can expect to go through when filing a claim with your insurance company:
- You will need to file a police report within 24 hours of the accident.
- Your insurance company will open an investigation.
- The insurance company will contact the other driver’s insurance company, as well as any witnesses.
- Based on their findings, the insurance company will decide whether or not to pay out any claims.
If you are found to be at fault for the accident, your premiums may go up. If you are not at fault, your rates should not be affected. However, even if you are not at fault, the accident will still go on your driving record.
How long do claims stay on your record?
It’s important to know how long claims stay on your record, as this can affect your insurance rates. Most accidents will remain on your record for three years, but some may stay on your record for longer.
If you have multiple accidents on your record, this could lead to higher premiums.
More reasons it might stay longer on your records include:
- You were found to be at fault for the accident.
- There was a fatality involved.
- The accident involved drugs or alcohol.
If you have any questions about how long a claim will stay on your record, you should contact your insurance company. They can help explain the specifics of your case and how it will affect your rates.
Also, be sure to shop around for car insurance quotes every year to make sure you are getting the best rate possible and staying up to date, just in case you’re ever in an accident.
Stay Alert and Prepared
To recap: If you have been in a staged accident, it’s important to know how to handle the situation. There are many common mistakes people make after an accident, so it’s best to educate yourself beforehand just in case.
Remember to stay calm and do not admit fault or offer to pay for damages. Get necessary contact information, take photographs of the scene, and contact the police to report the accident. Finally, contact your insurance to file a claim and ensure that the situation is all handled correctly and responsibly.
By following these steps, you can feel confident that you are taking the best possible course of action in this unfortunate situation, and make sure that you’re not being taken advantage of by fraudulent activity.
Luke Williams writes and researches for the car insurance comparison site, CarInsuranceComparison.com. His passions include insurance and helping everyday drivers stay safe on the road.