British drivers are turning into a nation of crooks, according to insurers. They are happy to stage an accident to make money by claiming on insurance, or lie about who will be actually driving their car to cut the cost of cover.
The latter is called fronting and it is becoming an epidemic, says Direct Line. Its research published this week revealed that one in 12 drivers have taken part in fronting, which adds up to nearly 2.5 million people. Worse, more than a quarter of people think "it's harmless, or everybody does it".
Fronting involves listing the main driver of a vehicle as a "named driver" on an insurance application to cut the cost of premiums. People do it to help out young drivers who would otherwise be stung by massive insurance costs. They also do it if their spouse or partner has driving convictions so they are put down as a named driver, again, to make the insurance more affordable.
But doing so is a false economy, warns Andy Goldby, director of motor underwriting at Direct Line, because if you are caught, your claim will be turned down.
"Fronting is fraud and effectively means a driver is uninsured," he says. "If you are found to be fronting, a claim can be rejected, and the correct premium that should have been paid will be reclaimed. The perpetrator can also be put on the CIFAS register, which will seriously affect their chances of getting other financial services products."
Meanwhile, the comparison site moneysupermarket.com says that the recession has encouraged more than a million motorists to consider staging a motor accident in order to make a claim on their insurance, while 340,000 admit to having already successfully done so.
Steve Sweeney, head of motor insurance at moneysupermarket.com, says: "Desperate times do often call for desperate measures, but surely this is a step too far for British motorists. We have all been affected by the recession in one way or another, but crashing for cash is not only illegal but wilfully endangers the lives of others."
According to the Association of British Insurers, fraudulent insurance claims cost the industry more than £4m every day and adds nearly £40 to the average annual premium paid by honest policyholders.
"Any motor insurance claim proved to involve an organised accident will be considered as fraudulent by an insurer, and is likely to have drastic, long-term affects on your motoring as a consequence," says Sweeney. "If found guilty, an official 'fraud mark' could be added to your licence, which will prompt your insurer to void existing cover and probably refuse you cover in the future."