Birmingham tops 'crash for cash' hotspot list
Birmingham is the country's "crash for cash" capital, according to an insurer, with Coventry, Leeds, Bradford, Oldham, Luton and parts of London also particular hotspots.
Aviva detected more than 3,000 organised crash for cash claimants last year - or one every three hours. It said one in every four (25%) of these claims happened in Birmingham.
The figures include induced accidents, where fraudsters deliberately target innocent motorists to claim whiplash compensation, as well as staged accidents, when two damaged cars are brought together to make it look like an accident.
Aviva said induced accident numbers remain "worryingly" close to record levels seen in 2014, with the number of cases falling by just 2% in 2015.
Meanwhile, there has been a dramatic 40% year-on-year fall in staged accidents. Aviva believes this is because measures have been put in place to make it harder for fraudsters to take out a policy with the insurer in the first place.
Motor fraud remains the largest type of fraud Aviva detects, representing 60% of all claims fraud with a value of £58 million.
One in nine whiplash claims submitted to Aviva is tainted by fraud, the insurer said, and Aviva has more than 17,000 suspicious whiplash claims under investigation, with 4,000 motor injury claims linked to known fraud rings.
Tom Gardiner, head of fraud at Aviva, said: "Induced accidents now account for nearly half of all organised motor fraud we detect.
"Crash for cash does not just push up premiums for genuine customers, it puts innocent motorists at risk. It is also a significant drain on scarce public resources such as ambulance, police and A&E time, all of which are wasted on these entirely bogus claims."
Aviva said the worst postcode in the country for induced accidents is B11, which, taken on its own, would rank as the third worst city in the UK for crash for cash, highlighting how concentrated the problem is in some parts of Birmingham.
The insurer also found problem pockets in particular areas. For example, WR5 (Worcester), CT9 (Margate) and LE3 (Leicester) all feature in the top postcodes for crash for cash. This could indicate that the problem is moving to new areas, and shows that crash for cash is not confined to just a handful of locations, Aviva said.
Mr Gardiner said: "Induced accidents remain a serious concern for all road users. However, as our figures show, we are getting better at detecting, declining and prosecuting these claims - but urgent reform is needed to remove the root cause of the problem, which is easy access to compensation and profits.
"We urge motorists to remain alert to induced accidents, especially in those areas where we know this is a problem."
Here are some tips from Aviva to minimise the risk of becoming a crash for cash victim:
:: Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the one in front.
:: Fraudsters target roundabouts and slip roads to induce accidents. Be especially vigilant in these areas, allowing plenty of space.
:: There are frequently two cars involved in inducing an accident - the car directly in front and the car in front of that car as well. Both may drive erratically.
:: Check the brake lights. A common trait in many vehicles involved in crash for cash is the failure of the vehicle's brake lights. If you notice the car in front brakes and their lights do not work, remain cautious, allow extra space between you and the vehicle, and perhaps distance your car from theirs.
:: Is the car in front moving particularly slowly or is it slowing down and speeding up for no apparent reason? If the driver in front is focusing on the back of the vehicle, that could be a sign they are looking for an opportunity to induce an accident. If the passengers in the vehicle in front are turning around and looking at you for no reason, they may be looking for a chance to induce an accident.
Here are the top 10 crash for cash locations in 2015, according to Aviva:
2. North London
3. East London
6. North West London