London Borough of Barnet

Council cracks ‘Crash for cash’ insurance scam worth £120,000

Published Thursday 23 August 2012

A fraudulent insurance scam potentially costing the taxpayer £120,000 has been smashed, thanks to joint working by Barnet Council employees.

Four separate motor accident claims were received by the council’s insurance department, each involving a car containing passengers suddenly slamming on the brakes for no apparent reason in front of a council HGV. Each incident resulted in the HGVs having little or no distance to stop in time, colliding into the rear of the car.

A council insurance officer handling the claims became suspicious when a pattern began to emerge showing elements in common with what are known as “slam-on shunts” or “crash for cash”. Further detailed investigations revealed various links between each set of circumstances, with similarities between locations of the incidents, claimants’ details and the various claims companies representing them.

Each case was vigorously pursued against the council by solicitors acting on behalf of the claimants who alleged they had suffered personal injuries as a result of the accident as well as incurred costs through vehicle damage, vehicle recovery and storage charges, replacement car hire costs and other miscellaneous expenses. The combined total of costs claimed against the council would have totalled in the region of £120,000 if they had been paid out.

However, thanks to the persistence of the council’s insurance department and the co-operation of the refuse and street cleansing teams, the claimants withdrew from their planned court dates after four years of defiance.

Councillor Daniel Thomas, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Resources and Performance, said:   “This is an excellent example of Barnet taxpayers being saved a significant sum of money thanks to the persistence and hard work of a number of our employees.

“From facing a hefty insurance claim, our teams fought back and the claimants did not receive a penny.

“If we had paid out it could have set a dangerous precedent for other scammers in the future. Barnet Council takes a hard line on what it believes to be false claims and I hope this case serves as a warning to any other potential fraudsters who might be out there.”

Contact Press Officer: Sue Cocker

Press Office