LEEDS IS one of the hotspots contributing to the current all time high rate of “crash for cash”, where road accidents are deliberately staged to gain fraudulent whiplash-injury compensation, according to an insurance company.
This year, York-based Aviva has seen a 21 per cent rise in organised fraud cases compared with 2013, with organised gangs at the heart of the increase.
The company said Birmingham and Greater London were the worst areas for crash for cash cases, with other blackspots including Luton, Manchester, Leeds, Bradford and Slough in Berkshire.
Earlier this year, members of a gang that deliberately crashed a 12-tonne bus carrying 26 passengers as part of a thousand-pound ‘crash-for-cash’ scam in Sheffield were jailed by a judge.
The suspicious crash in 2011 prompted a police investigation which led to the discovery of a number of other fraudulent claims by the gang’s ringleaders targeting insurance companies.
In the past, Manchester had been the main area for fraudulent claims but the number had been reduced in that area due to a number of successful operations and prosecutions, Aviva said.
Aviva said fraudulent claims were adding around £14 to every motor insurance premium, with fraudulent claims in Birmingham totalling more than £4.7 million in August alone.
Aviva said more than 50 per cent of its motor injury claims fraud is now organised, with the company having more than 6,500 suspicious injury claims linked to known fraud rings.
Tom Gardiner, head of claims fraud for Aviva’s UK and Ireland general insurance business, said, “We are asking the Government to consider compensating short-term whiplash with rehabilitation, instead of cash.
“Would crash for cash exist if there was no money in it? We don’t think so.” He went on: “Crash for cash is not just a financial problem - it’s a serious social problem. No other form of insurance fraud puts the public at risk of serious injury.”
RAC head of external affairs Pete Williams said motorists were looking to in-car cameras to protect themselves from being taken advantage of.
He added: “Making in-car cameras compulsory would come at a cost initially, but they could pay for themselves in the long run if they cut the nation’s premiums.”