Thursday 17 October 2019

Warning as scammers target Christmas shoppers in car parks

Insurers have warned drivers to be vigilant (Stock image)
Insurers have warned drivers to be vigilant (Stock image)
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

Fraudsters are targeting innocent drivers in car parks and lodging bogus claims.

Insurance companies are warning customers to be vigilant in the run up to the festive season as a spike in the scam has been recorded recently. 

“In recent months Aviva has seen growing evidence of innocent motorists being targeted by fraudsters who are seeking financial gain from bogus insurance claims,” the company said in an email to customers.

“We have seen a trend of very minor collisions in public car parks resulting in the submission of personal injury claims for soft tissue injuries such as whiplash.”

Scammers are targeting drivers as they reverse out of a car parking space. They collide with them, usually with two or three passengers in the car.

The unsuspecting driver accepts they are at fault but all parties agree to swap details and not contact gardai.

A claim for damages is then made against the innocent driver, pushing up their premium.

Read more: Watch: Insurance scammers stage road crashes for fraudulent claims

A spokeswoman said the company noticed a trend when they examined previous claims.

“It has reared its head in the Munster area and we suspect it might happen in other parts of the country also.

“So we thought we should alert our customers to it,” she said.

“It’s quite likely that there might be CCTV footage in shopping centres that may be able to detect something,” she said.

A number of claims involving members of the same family have been made  against Aviva and other insurers recently.

Conor Faughnan, of the AA told Independent.ie, the scenario is far too common in Ireland and has served to drive up premiums for all motorists.

“It has been part of the landscape in Ireland for a few years and it it fraud. It is one of the issues that drives up everyone’s premiums,” he said.

“It might seem like the most sensible thing to do, to just swap details and move on but you should keep as much of a record as possible.”

Fraud claims are a “scourge” Mr Faughnan said and too often insurance companies opt to settle to avoid legal costs and a potential loss in court.

While there have been some incidents recently of claims being thrown out in court and damages awarded against the claimers, insurance fraud “often seems like to easy a way to make money dishonestly” he said.

 Mr Faughnan said he would advise people to check CCTV if necessary and to ensure to take as comprehensive a record of the incident as possible, including phone pictures.

He also advised people to inform the gardai even in the case of minor incidents.

“I think you should take as comprehensive a record as you can even if it’s a relatively minor incident,” he added.

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