With the recent reports surfacing around auto body shops overcharging insurance companies, we felt it would be a good time to discuss what a staged collision is, how to spot it, avoid it and report it.
Picture yourself driving along and another vehicle passes you. There is a car beside you as well. Suddenly the car in front of you stops for no reason. The car beside you becomes a witness for the car you just rear-ended! Sadly, you, the innocent driver, are now at-fault and a claim will be made against you.
Not all collisions like this are “staged”, some are truly accidents. If you are concerned it wasn’t really an accident, here are some tips for you on how to avoid a staged collision and what to do if you suspect that you are the victim of one.
Signs that your collision was staged
These do not indicate that this WAS for sure a staged collision but will give you some things to look at to help you be aware:
- A driver stops and waves to let you in, then drives into your vehicle.
- Another driver cuts you off and immediately slams on the brakes for no apparent reason, causing you to rear-end his car.
- The other driver is eager to leave the scene and wants you to meet up at the collision reporting centre, often before having the chance to assess the situation or take down important information.
- A tow truck is on the scene right away and recommends a repair shop.
- The tow truck driver asks questions or recommends a medical or legal facility.
- The other driver, or tow truck driver, asks you to sign something (NEVER sign anything at the scene).
Don’t be an easy target
Did you know, distracted driving is not only an offence under the Highway Traffic Act that causes many collisions, but it is also a great way for criminals to target you for a staged collision. A professional needs only a few minutes to assess your habits.
Follow these tips to avoid making yourself the next easy target of a staged collision! Here’s what these professionals look for:
- Anyone looking down at their phone, or something else that catches their attention.
- Drivers having an animated hands-free conversation – your hands aren’t occupied but your mind is!
- Drivers eating and drinking behind the wheel – save that cheeseburger for when you get home!
- Drivers who are checking their appearance in the mirror – it doesn’t matter how good you look when involved in a collision.
What to do if you believe you’ve been involved in a staged collision
It isn’t always easy to know when a collision has been staged. It’s usually done by professionals who have been doing this for a long time.
If you think you may be a victim of a staged collision, here are some things you can do:
- Call 911 and tell the operator you believe you’ve been involved in a staged collision.
- Make a note of all passengers in the other vehicle to prevent fraudulent medical claims for people who weren’t even there.
- If there are any witnesses who weren’t involved in the collision, see if they can stick around or will give you their contact information.
- Take pictures of the damage to all vehicles while still at the scene.
- Record license plate numbers, make and model and make sure to obtain license and insurance information from the other driver(s). If any of this information is refused, contact the police.
- Report the accident to your insurance agent as soon as possible, giving them all the information you have gathered. Be sure to mention anything you found unusual about the incident.
- When you are contacted by a claims representative, make sure they have all the same details and be sure they understand you think the collision was staged.
Help fight insurance fraud and keep claims down
Insurance scams are very costly for insurance companies, but over time, these false claim payouts can lead to higher premiums which affect everyone.
Fraud hurts everyone. If you suspect insurance fraud of any kind, report it! Together, we can help make Ontario roads safer and car insurance more affordable.