“Flash for Cash” insurance scams: Drivers beware!

Motorists are being warned by police and insurance investigators about a growing scam where gangs and criminals flash their lights to signal other drivers to pull out of a junction, then crash into them on purpose.

The illegal tactic is netting gangs many thousands of pounds, and has been dubbed ‘Flash for Cash’ because the fraudster accelerates, deliberately crashing into the victim, denies flashing his lights and then claims damages. This can include whiplash injuries, damage and storage of the car, hire cars and even claims for people that were not present in the vehicle.

These large organised gangs take full advantage of courteous behaviour and risk causing serious injury, even death to the victims. Their preferred targets are people who are less likely to confront them at the scene of the incident such as the elderly and women with children.

The new scam is costing the insurance industry hundreds of millions of pounds each year, putting an estimated £50 – £100 onto each motor insurance policy in the UK. It is a variation on the ‘Crash for Cash’ schemes but is even more difficult to prove in court as it is one person’s word against another. According to the Highway Code you can only flash a driver to warn them that you are there:

“Only flash your headlights to let other road users know that you are there. Do not flash your headlights to convey any other message or intimidate other road users. Never assume that flashing headlights is a signal inviting you to proceed. Use your own judgement and proceed carefully.”

This means the innocent victim can only be at fault and this cannot be denied under the law.

The Association of British Insurers has revealed that there are around 380 fraudulent claims happening on a daily basis, which are worth nearly £1billion a year and the Insurance Fraud Bureau has stated that it suspects approximately 14% of personal injury claims are likely to be linked to some sort of scam.

But how can you protect yourself?

1) Be wary of drivers who flash you out at a junction.
2) If someone does flash you out, consider waiting for a big enough gap behind them or wait for them to slow down considerably before pulling out.
3) Consider fitting an in-car camera to catch what has happened.
4) If you have been involved in an incident, try and get witness details who may have seen what happened.