Monday, March 23, 2009
Swoop and Squat, a Dangerous Form of Car Insurance Fraud
By Michael Collins
Insurance Fraud is a major problem in today's society. People will often hear stories about people burning down their houses or even killing spouses in order to collect insurance money. However, there is another form of insurance fraud that is not as common or as well-known: the Swoop and Squat, a form of auto insurance fraud.
AllState Insurance has publicized this type of fraud in commercials to help customers avoid becoming victims. Their website defines the swoop and squat as "Two vehicles work as a team to set up an accident. One vehicle pulls in front of an innocent driver and the other alongside, blocking the victim in. The lead car stops short, causing the victim to rear-end him. The car that pulled up alongside serves as a block and prevents the victim from avoiding a collision." So, the fraudsters essentially create a "controlled accident" that minimizes the risk to themselves, but will still get them a lot of money from the insurance companies, as well as causing the victim's insurance rates to go up.
Cities like Los Angeles and Miami have been known as hotbeds of swoop and squat rings. In addition, vehicles that are heavily insured, like tractor-trailers or expensive cars, are commonly targeted. If the fraudsters claim bodily harm (often faked), along with the damage to the car, they can make much more money with their scheme. Many rings have been known to involve corrupt doctors and lawyers, in order to verify injuries and get the cases through the court system.
This type of fraud is often difficult for drivers to avoid if confronted. However, insurance companies believe that the best ways to avoid becoming a victim are refrain from tailgating other cars, and to call the police as soon as an accident takes place.