Two drivers man arguing after a car traffic accident collision and making phone call to Insurance Agent, Traffic Accident and insurance concept.

Avoiding Fender Bender Fraud

A traffic accident is a stressful event. People involved in a crash often feel stunned and unable to think clearly — exactly the state of mind fraudsters prey upon. Maintain a level mindset and you’ll have a better chance at identifying someone trying to take advantage of the situation.

Douglas Shiring, director of GEICO’s Special Investigations Unit, is very familiar with insurance fraud. He explains how to outwit potential fraudsters right there on the scene.

GEICO Living (GL): Traffic accidents do happen and sometimes it’s tempting to give the other driver the benefit of the doubt. Is it ever smart to wash your hands of it and just walk away from a car crash — even a minor one?

Police officer interrogating people at an emergency scene.

Douglas Shiring (DS): The first thing to do is to make sure everyone is okay. Then, exchange driver and insurance information with the other parties and take photos of any vehicle damage and injuries. Law enforcement officers can serve as impartial observers about the damage to vehicles, location of the loss, and the condition of the people involved. This prevents exaggeration of damage or injury.

GL: In movies and on TV, we see depictions of a fraudulent claimant hobbling into court on crutches or in a wheelchair, wearing bandages and a neck brace. Does that stuff really happen?

DS: I am sure, but generally people don’t go to those lengths to exaggerate injuries sustained in an accident. As a precaution, it’s important to safely photograph the damage to the vehicles and people involved. Photographic evidence can be used in the future if someone tries to exploit the unfortunate situation involving an accident.

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GL: Why would someone go to such ridiculous lengths?

DS: In those instances, it is generally attributed to a perceived notion that they will be able to gain financially.

GL: In a courtroom, the judge considers many factors to determine who’s telling the truth. With insurance fraud, how can you tell when someone’s fibbing?

DS: In my experience, the facts surrounding an event like an accident are pretty straightforward. The courts (judges and juries) are pretty good at seeing through elaborate tales and inconceivable stories exaggerated so someone can profit financially.

At GEICO, we’re all about playing it safe and encourage all drivers to use their best judgment. Remaining calm and collected isn’t always easy, but it pays off in the end.

If you have any questions about your GEICO auto insurance, please call 1-800-841-0728 or visit geico.com. Go straight to the GEICO Claims Center if you’ve been in a fender bender or just want to know more about the claims process. Download the GEICO Mobile app to easily get a quote or report a claim.

By Steven Scott

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  1. Jude AC says,

    So you only google issues after the problem. I got into a fender bender today . The driver went into my lane from the left side . When I got out of the care to check the damage- I didn’t have any. My car was a Tesla . His car had the black scratch of my tire .He was apologetic and admitted his fault . I took a picture of my tire which had no damage . But I realized I don’t have a picture of the damage on his car.
    I took a picture of the license plate, his driver’s license , registration & his insurance card.
    Big mistake was not to call for a police report- thinking I was not damaged .
    When I got home & told my husband -he told me to call my local police who told me couldn’t help me but adviced to pick up a form to fill up an incident & be sent to Dept of Highway & motor Vehicles.
    As I was filling up the forms – I noticed a discrepancy that the registration of vehicle & plate number were different .
    I have a copy his driver’s license & Insurance policy . He even gave me a copy of his RN license.
    I’m afraid this is a scam. What should I do

  2. Barbara K. Johnson says,

    Thank you for the tips. I am an elderly driver and I sometimes am afraid to get on the road due to “crazy drivers ” here in Phoenix. Al those kind of drivers weave in and out of lanes and go through red lights. Luckily I have not been hit and hope I never will be. I try to drive at least the speed limit and sometimes over the limit so I am not slowing other drivers down because I am elderly. The tip on taking pictures etc. in case of a fender bender is very good advice. Years ago I tried to avoid being hit and caused my own car to bump up on the curb and quite a bit of damage occurred to my car. I drove into the Cosco parking lot and was completely shook up. Two guys came over and told me they saw everything and would be witnesses and I did not get their phone number and my insurance paid for all the repairs to my car. It was foolish for me to take the entire blame as the other car would have hit me right on the driver’s side. Thank you for the tips.

  3. Liz Spencer says,

    A great way to combat this is to have a dash cam. It’s hard for them to get away with lying when you have the whole thing on video. There are some great youtube dash cam videos showing this.

  4. Diane Greene says,

    Thank you for the advice about witnessing accidents. It’s so important to have a disinterested party to tell the truth. I once stopped on a green light for a police car running with lights and siren on the cross street. The driver behind me hit me at full speed, totaling my car and putting me in the hospital. Because I was stopped at a green light she said that the accident was my fault. I think that if the police officer hadn’t stopped things would have gotten really ugly on the insurance end. Of course there were many other witnesses but none of them stuck around. This was before I moved to Geico.

  5. Janet Kerzner says,

    Sometimes it is hard to stay in a “safe” zone. People do drive differently and not all follow safety rules. The traffic is terrific in Palm Bay, Florida and not every one drives safely or they just don’t know how to drive, especially being a “snow bird” and not knowing where they are going. So they cut in front of you rather quickly and there it goes. You hit from the rear and you are at fault. I take the roads less traveled to stay away from possibilities. It’s nerve racking. One man I spoke with at the post office was ranting about the traffic and said that is why he rides his bicycle. I don’t know if that is safer, but I guess it works for him.

  6. Skylar Mitchell says,

    It is so helpful to learn more about what to do in case you get in a fender bender. If I were to get in a small accident, I am not sure that I would know what to do. I think that it is definitely a good idea to document everything you can by taking pictures. Since people try to make things up when it comes to accidents, having the facts is always good. Since these kind of accidents are actually quite common, I want to be sure that my insurance covered these damages, so I will probably check this out soon.

  7. Alex Jennings says,

    It’s unfortunate that some people enact fender bender fraud. If I were ever in this situation, I would call a car accident lawyer to help mediate the situation. I wonder how many people have been affected by this fraud.

      • Caroline Miller says,

        I was hit by car in a left-turn lane, hitting my brand new Prious. He changed lanes and ran into me. My vehicle took all the damage. I called police to the accident; he wrote up the report. Neither of us were ticketed. When I got home I promptly called Geico to report what happened. The other driver happend to be insured by
        Geico and they reached out to him. After 5 days he called them back and told the story that I ran into him. Because I couldn’t prove any differently, I was stuck with paying the $500 deductible and he got off scott free. I am still mad over this.

      • Timothy Wright says,

        @Janet Kerzner: I have worked A LOT as a legal secretary in this field. I have never seen any costs to a client EXCEPT a share of the settlement or award. NO out-of-pocket costs.

        As a separate thing, from that same work, I know that GEICO is one of the best!