What is 'flash for cash?'

‘Flash for cash’ is a recent car insurance fraud phenomenon  where criminals flash their headlights to let other drivers out of a junction, then crash into them on purpose. In 2013, insurers uncovered false claims worth nearly £1.3 billion across all insurance products - it is estimated that fraud adds, on average, an extra £50 to the annual insurance bill for every UK policyholder.

One of the difficulties with ‘Flash for cash’ is that it is hard to prove in court  that the innocent driver was not at fault – it often comes down to one driver's word against another's.
The Highway Code's  position on flashing is that motorists should never assume that it is a signal inviting drivers to proceed, and they should use their own judgement, proceeding carefully.

Why criminals commit ‘flash for cash’ fraud

The people committing ‘flash for cash’ use the fraudulent claim to make as much money as possible. These criminals try to claim for reimbursement and compensation for:

  • False personal injury  for whiplash, sometimes including claims for people who were not even in the car
  • Loss of earnings  
  • Fake bills for vehicle storage, recovery, repairs, and replacement car hire

‘Flash for cash’ – what to do

If you’re involved in what you believe to be an intentional accident, stay calm, call the police  from the scene of the accident, telling them you suspect the accident is a scam, and don’t admit liability  to anyone involved. You should then capture as much information  as possible, including:

  • Make, model and registration number of the other vehicle
  • Time, date, location and weather conditions at the time of the accident
  • Full name, address and date of birth of the driver and each passenger in their vehicle
  • Take pictures or video of the vehicles involved and the scene of the accident
  • Any injuries mentioned
  • Whether the other vehicle was driven or towed away from the scene – note the details of the vehicle used to tow
  • Names and addresses of any independent witnesses

Contact your car insurance provider immediately after the accident and advise them of your suspicions.

What’s being done to tackle ‘flash for cash’ scams?

There are a number of official bodies concerned with the investigation of insurance fraud:

  • The Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB), set up in 2006, can be inspecting 30 to 40  criminal gangs at any one time.
  • The Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department is a dedicated police unit funded by the insurance industry, which has clocked up over 470 arrests and 85 prosecutions of insurance fraudsters since it was established in 2011.
  • The Insurance Fraud Register is a record of people who have lied to an insurance company  and acts as a deterrent – people listed face reduced access to financial products and credit, as well as higher insurance premiums.

If you are concerned about ‘flash for cash’ and other fraudulent car accident claims, you could consider purchasing a dashboard camera which will record the road in front of the vehicle and provide valuable video evidence if a driver is involved in an accident or other motoring incident. The RAC shop has a selection of dash cams available to purchase to help guard against this type of fraud.

Find further information here on car insurance or speak to one of our RAC advisers on 0330 159 1019 to get a quote.

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