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Tips on avoiding staged collisions

March 25th, 2024  |  Auto Insurance

Would you know if you were a victim of a staged accident?

Insurance fraud is a growing problem. The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) estimates it adds approximately $1.6 billion to Ontario’s annual insurance tab. Staged collisions are a big part of that. These planned “accidents” put innocent people at risk and support false insurance claims that affect unsuspecting victims. The false claims filed by fraudsters also use up valuable law enforcement, court, and health care resources.

Staged collisions fool another driver into acting which then causes an accident. The most common types include.

1. Swoop and squat scam - This is when one scammer cuts off an accomplice, who then slams on the brakes in front of you and claims you were at fault for rear-ending them.

How to prevent it: Drive defensively. Always keep plenty of distance between you and the vehicle ahead. Road safety experts recommend allowing three seconds in clear weather. In wet or snowy conditions leave 4 to 6 seconds. If conditions are worse, leave 10 seconds or don’t go out on the road.

2. Drive down scam: A scammer waves you out of your parking spot and then accelerates into you and claims the collision was your fault.

How to prevent it:Be cautious and patient when exiting a parking spot – wait until the coast is clear before exiting. If someone waves you on, just ignore it and pull back into your parking spot and let them pass. When possible, reverse into parking spots – this will help when it’s time to leave.

3. Bullet left turn scam: The scammer waves you through an intersection and then drives into you and claims you are at fault.

How to prevent it: Be wary of accepting the right of way when making a left turn and ensure you’re turning safely. Leave lots of space between you and oncoming vehicles.

There are other signs a collision may have been staged including:

  • The other parties not wanting to share contact information or identify themselves.
  • Inconsistent stories in terms of how the crash occurred.
  • Exiting the vehicle and immediately claiming to be injured, such as rubbing a “sore neck.”
  • The other party pressures you to use their tow truck company or mechanic.
  • A tow truck driver “just happens” to be at the scene. These drivers, if involved, may work in conjunction with repair shops and storage facilities.

What to do if you’re involved in an accident

Knowing what to do if you’re involved in a collision is important. Make sure other drivers in your family are also aware.

First of all, stay calm. You must remain at the scene of the accident. Failure to do so can result in criminal prosecution.

Call 911 or police if someone is hurt, you think the other driver may be guilty of a Criminal Code offence, such as impaired driving, you suspect you’re a victim of a staged collision or if the vehicle is not driveable (significant damage.)

You must also:

  • Report the collision to police, as required by regulations in your province/territory
  • If it’s safe, move vehicles to the side of the road
  • If vehicles aren’t driveable turn on hazard lights or surround the vehicles with cones or warning triangles
  • Regardless of circumstances, never admit fault, sign any documents regarding fault or promise to pay for damages
  • Contact your insurer right away (the number is on your pink slip). They can advise you on claims, repairs, accident benefits and more.
  • Record all collision details and take pictures as soon as possible. This includes what, how, when and where it happened, the weather and road conditions, names, address, licence plate numbers and insurance details of all drivers, passengers and witnesses.
  • It’s important that you report the collision within 48-72 hours whether you decide to file a claim or not.

IBC has an accident report form that can be helpful for collecting details. It can be printed and left in your vehicle in case you ever need it. IBC also advises motorists to be wary of tow truck operators who pressure you to authorize towing or repairs. You have the right to request estimates of fees in advance.

If you think you have been involved in a staged collision, you can make an anonymous call at any time of the day to the Équité/Crime Stoppers Canada tip line at 1-877-422-TIPS or submit an anonymous tip via Équité Association.


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