Motorists have been warned by anti-fraud experts over a ‘flash-for-cash’ insurance scam, where drivers flash their headlights to let another motorist out of a junction and then purposely crash into them to claim on insurance.
It’s similar to other schemes where fraudsters slam on the brakes for no reason and let innocent drivers crash into them, or simply remove their brake lights so others can’t judge when they are stopping. The ‘flash-for-cash’ scam is more complex however as it is harder to prove in court.
Scammers use ‘flash-for-cash’ to claim for personal injury, loss of earnings and even fake bills for repairs, recovery and car hire.
Detective Inspector Dave Hindmarsh from the Metropolitan Police says that it costs insurers £392m a year which impacts insurance premiums by adding an extra £50 to £100 on top. He also says that it can impact a driver emotionally: “If you’re involved in a crash you could well lose your confidence, and if your passengers are children they may well become wary of being passengers in cars.”
As per the rules of the Highway Code, motorists aren’t meant to use their lights to let people out of junctions. It says: “Do not flash your headlights to convey any other message or intimidate other road users. Never assume that flashing headlights is a signal inviting you to proceed. Use your own judgement and proceed carefully.”
However, the gesture is still widely used, and it is unlikely that this will stop people from doing it. Police and fraud experts simply hope to raise awareness of the scam and make people use their own judgement when turning out of a busy junction.