IBC releases safety app to combat false auto insurance claims

Toronto, Ontario — March 26, 2015

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) recently launched the SafetyMobile App, a road safety phone application aiming to educate users about staged collisions.

The app was unveiled on March 12 during a Fraud Prevention Month event held at Toronto’s Danforth Collegiate, where members of Toronto Police Service, the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, and Victims Services Ontario were joined by the hundreds of students in attendance.

“IBC believes that teaching new drivers about road safety is very important,” says Ralph Palumbo, Vice-President, Ontario, IBC. “That’s why we launched this new road safety app. It not only encourages drivers to be safe on the road, but raises awareness about a serious type of fraud that happens all too often in the Greater Toronto Area – staged collisions.”

Staged collisions are mimicked collision scenarios that not only jeopardize the safety of those on the road, but also support false auto insurance claims.

Staged collisions include:

  • The Swoop and Squat: A “swoop” car, belonging to the fraudster, suddenly speeds up and cuts off a “squat” car with an innocent driver. Unable to stop in time, the squat car rear-ends the swoop car.
     
  • The Drive Down: The fraudster appears to yield and waves to an innocent driver to proceed with a merge or lane change. The victim merges, and then the fraudster drives into the victim, later denying that he or she waved the victim on.
     
  • The Sideswipe: The fraudster targets an innocent driver and purposely collides with the side of the victim’s vehicle. This usually occurs in busy intersections with dual left turn lanes.

Often linked to organized crime rings, staged collisions make up just one part of the car accident business, resulting in increased costs in the Ontario auto insurance system. Fraudsters also falsify medical claims, exaggerate auto body repair costs, make up imaginary collisions and sell seats in their car to falsely claim insurance benefits.

“The Greater Toronto Area is the fraud capital of Canada. The “car accident business” is thriving and driving up insurance premiums for innocent drivers. This app will help raise awareness of this serious fraud so that people can detect it, avoid it and report it,” says Palumbo.

The idea for the app came from IBC’s SafetyMobile, a simulator that IBC takes to towns and cities across Ontario each summer to help encourage safe driving habits. The app offers the same features found in a car and takes drivers through a number of driving scenarios to increase awareness of staged collisions.

IBC encourages auto insurance crime witnesses/victims to call 1-877-IBC-TIPS. Alternatively, tips can be submitted anonymously online.

Android users can download IBC’s free SafetyMobile app by visting Google Play. The app is set to be available for iPhone devices in the coming weeks on the App Store.

For more information on IBC, please visit ibc.ca

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