July 26, 2023
Terri O'Brien

Crash for cash: types of staged collisions

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A staged collision is insurance fraud that puts innocent drivers, and their passengers, at risk. In some cases, the drivers of both vehicles collide intentionally, while in others, the criminal tricks innocent drivers into the crash. In either situation, the risk of injury to other road users is significant, while taxpayers are on the hook for the emergency responders, hospital care, police and clean-up efforts. With 54% of Canadians still living pay cheque to pay cheque (2022 BDO Canada Affordability Index), we need to prevent situations where money is redirected from families and into the pockets of criminals as a result of insurance crime.

Sometimes known as a “crash for cash” scam, there are additional costs to taxpayers that can be difficult to detect, and therefore are often difficult to prevent. Collaborating with law enforcement across the country to combat organized crime that leads to auto-theft related is critical. Équité Association shares information lawfully with law enforcement and regulators looking to identify bad actors within the industry and hold them accountable.  

Some types of staged collisions include:

Swoop & Squat: In a “swoop & squat” collision, a driver cuts off an accomplice in a second car who slams on the brakes in front of the victim forcing a rear-end collision.

Drive Down: While an unsuspecting driver is backing out of a parking spot, the fraudster in an on-coming car waves at them to continue, as though they are waiting for the spot. As the victim continues to back out, the fraudster then accelerates, colliding with the victim’s car.

Bullet Left Turn: As a victim is waiting to make a left-hand turn, a fraudster waves at them to continue through the intersection. As the victim begins to turn, the fraudster accelerates to hit the victim’s car.

In all of these schemes, the fraudster will claim the accident was the victim’s fault.

Fraud Party: A fraud party is when multiple people are involved in the plan to commit a staged collision and pose as extra passengers in the vehicle. If occupants were not in the vehicle at the time of impact, they are known as jump-ins. Drivers and passengers involved in a “fraud party” may submit false claims for:

  • Vehicle damage
  • Injury assessment, treatment, rehabilitation and/or assistive devices
  • Loss of income and other services

Staged collisions cost everyone. After staging a collision, fraudsters will seek to maximize profits from their scheme by creating multiple insurance claims for towing, unnecessary body shop work and exaggerated personal injury claims.

Insurance crime is not a victimless crime, and Équité members believe it is time we eradicate these crimes from Canada. In 2023, Équité partnered with Crime Stoppers to make it easier for Canadians to report insurance crimes. The Crime Stoppers tip line is available 24-hours a day, seven days a week. For those who prefer to submit tips online, click here. Both options are anonymous and confidential for tipsters.