Motor Touting: Don’t Fall Prey to Accident Scams
For most drivers, getting into a car accident may already seem like a terrible situation. However, there have been incidents in Singapore where motor touting turns what you think of as a simple, straightforward accident, into something far more sinister.
For this reason, the General Insurance Association Of Singapore (GIA) in partnership with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) have launched a motor touting awareness campaign.
Because motor touting is such a dangerous crime that can happen to anyone, we at DirectAsia Insurance hope to play our part in helping to raise awareness of it as a warning to all drivers.
In this article, we will cover what exactly motor touting is, how it can happen, and how we can prevent ourselves from falling prey to it. Hopefully it can help us as drivers to be more aware of the potential scams on the road and be more alert so as to avoid them.
What is Motor Touting?
Motor touting, or road touting, is an unfortunate practice by ill-intent individuals who are usually out to scam you. It is also known as “motor insurance fraud”, “car accident scams”, or “staged accidents”.
In these situations, fraudsters may deliberately cause accidents, with the intent of filing inflated insurance claims or pressuring innocent parties into accepting unnecessary repairs or medical services from specific providers with whom they are usually in cahoots.
These individuals, usually referred to as "motor touts" or “road touts”, prey on unsuspecting drivers and attempt to exploit a driver’s vulnerability and confusion in an accident for financial gain.
It's extremely important for drivers to be vigilant and cautious on the road to avoid falling victim to such accident scams. The best thing to do is to report the car accident or motorcycle accident immediately to the authorities and your insurance company. Choosing to handle things on your own can sometimes land you in hot water.
How Motor Touts Can Cause Accidents
Scammers usually have a whole bag full of tricks, and may not stick to only one method of scamming. Here are some common accident scam scenarios:
1. Sudden Braking
A scammer may suddenly slam on their brakes, causing you to crash into their car, as you simply did not have the time to react in any other way.
2. Merging and Side-swiping
A scammer may intentionally merge into your lane, causing damage to the side of the car, and claim that you did not give way to them.
3. The Wave Scam
A scammer may signal to let you into traffic, then deliberately crash into you and deny ever giving you any signal.
4. Staged Parking Collisions
Fraudsters may wait for your car to pull out of a parking lot and then intentionally crash into you from behind.
To safeguard yourself, if you’re ever involved in any kind of road accident whatsoever, report the incident immediately and get both law enforcement and your insurance company involved.
Road Touting in a Real Accident
Road touts can find ways of scamming you even if the accident that occurred was real and legitimate. It’s essential to note that they may not work single-handedly, but in groups. Here are some common tactics:
1. Touting Own Business
Some scammers may themselves be mechanics or have their own workshops, which they will try to push onto you since it “makes things easier for everyone”.
2. Referral to Specific Businesses
They may recommend specific auto repair shops, medical facilities, or legal services to earn a commission. These services may also overcharge you. Either way, they may harass or pressure you into taking up their recommendation.
3. Claiming Unnecessary Repairs
If you go to their repair shop, they may try to convince you that more repairs are necessary than needed, and inflate repair costs.
4. Claiming Pre-Existing Damage
A scammer may insist that certain (existing) damage to their vehicle was caused by the accident, and you would have no way of proving (or disproving) this.
5. False Medical Claims
Scammers may claim ridiculous amounts for medical treatments from fake or exaggerated injuries sustained in the accident.
6. Rogue Surveyors
Motorists making third-party claims need to have a surveyor to assess the damage before repairs. However, surveyors are not licensed in Singapore, so there is no regulation when it comes to a surveyor’s estimates. For the surveyor, the higher the estimate they give, the higher their fee.
7. Insurance Touting
Some passersby may claim to be an “Insurance Claims Specialist” or “Accident Claims Specialist” who can help you take care of the whole situation. Do not trust such individuals.
The only specialist you should call is your insurance company’s on-hand claims specialist, if for no other reason than that an in-house specialist will know your specific car insurance policy much better than any other third-party person claiming to be a claims specialist.
How Touting Hurts You
Obviously nobody wants to be scammed. If you choose to settle the matter privately without making any insurance claims, the out-of-pocket repair costs can be a significant hit on your finances.
If the so-called “victim” or the scammer in this case chooses to file a third-party claim, it will be almost impossible for you to dispute an inflated claim if you did not report anything to your insurance company when the accident happened.
In the end, you’ll be the one forced to pay much higher premiums on your car insurance because of the scammer’s inflated third-party claims.
How to Prevent Being Scammed by Road Touts
There may be no real way to avoid getting into an intentional road accident, especially if a scammer goes all out to involve you in one. However, it does not mean that you are powerless to the situation.
To protect yourself from falling victim to such accident scams, here are some things you should do when an accident occurs:
1. Document the Accident Thoroughly
Take pictures of all the vehicles involved, the various damages sustained, the accident scene, and any visible injuries. Do not rely on the other party; make sure that you have your own proof of what happened.
Having a dashboard camera can be a highly useful tool when it comes to documenting accidents and preventing false claims.
Take note of the date, time, and exact accident location. You may even want to take pictures of any skid marks on the road as proof.
2. Collect Contact Information
Get all the details from the other party, including their name, contact information, insurance details, and vehicle registration number. Make sure to get their insurance details even if they insist on settling it privately. You may even wish to call the phone number they give you on the spot to check that they have given you a legitimate number — you can say that’s how they will have your number in return.
3. Check for Witnesses
Ask passersby if they witnessed the accident, and collect their contact information if they can step forward as a witness. You can also ask if any witnesses might have captured dashboard camera footage that you may be able to use to support your case.
4. Immediately Contact Your Insurance Company
Some people are afraid to contact their insurance company when an accident happens, thinking that it will immediately mean losing their No-Claim Discount. This is far from the truth. Calling your insurance company does not directly lead to making an insurance claim.
The point of getting your insurance company involved is to have direct access to their experts on hand who understand such situations better and can give you the best advice in that particular situation you’re in, when it comes to damages, claims, coverage and such. Essentially, reporting an accident to your insurance company is the best way to protect yourself.
5. Do Not Admit Fault
It may look like your fault. You might feel the pressure from passersby saying that you were at fault. You might even think that you are somewhat responsible for the accident. However, do not admit fault. Let the authorities and insurance companies investigate and determine liability.
6. Be Wary of “Good Samaritans”
Scammers are quite literally wolves in sheep's clothing. They may usually come across eager to help, and may try to persuade you to let them worry about everything instead.
They may say such things as:
- “I can handle everything, no headache, you don’t have to worry.”
- “It’s okay, I’ll take care of the insurance claim, you won’t have to deal with the paperwork at all.”
- “This must be very stressful for you since it’s your first time in a car accident. Don’t worry, I’ve done accident claims before, so I know what the procedure is like, you just have to follow along.”
Having someone offer to step in and handle everything for us can seem like such a relief, especially in such a vulnerable time of stress and anxiety. Unfortunately, it is exactly your stress and panic and confusion that scammers are trying to take advantage of.
Know that you are never alone in an accident. Even if you are feeling confused at that moment, you don’t have to take the other person’s word for it, because you have a DirectAsia Insurance expert to guide you through the situation step by step.
7. Only Trust Approved Workshops
The other party in the accident, or even some helpful passersby, may try to recommend (persistently) services such as tow truck operators, medical centres, legal representatives, or auto repair workshops.
If you can, try to prepare a list of such services that you already know and trust, and leave that list in your dashboard compartment, or have it stored in email or your phone, so that you can refer to your own services that you trust.
If not, stick to the services recommended by your own insurance company. Make sure that you only trust approved reporting centres or authorised workshops for repairs that are endorsed by your insurance company.
Stay Protected Against Motor Touting
It is unfortunate that there are fraudulent individuals out there trying to take advantage of innocent parties by means of motor touting.
The only thing that we can do is to stay vigilant and alert to it, and know that you can always trust your insurance company to do right by you.
Make sure that you share this blog article with your friends and family, to help them also become aware of accident scams, and hopefully prevent them from falling prey to it.
In the event of an accident, contact the DirectAsia Insurance 24-hour hotline immediately at +65 6532 1818. We will guide you through the entire process, offer you true peace of mind in a confusing situation, and help you stay protected against touting.
- Singapore Police Force — Drivers Investigated for Touting, Harassment and Dangerous Driving
- Channel News Asia — A Look at the Shady Business of Road Touting, and the Cost to Victims
- MyCarForum — Insurance Touting Might Not Be As Uncommon As You Think
- SingSaver — Approached by a ‘Claims Specialist’ After a Traffic Accident? Here’s What You Should Do
- Motorist.sg — Viral ‘Accident Claim Specialists’ Under Investigation, Licence Suspended