.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Car Insurance

A Blog About Driving and Car Insurance in the USA

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Avoiding Fender Bender Fraud

Car Accident
Car Accident
 This Avoiding Fender Bender Fraud article was produced by the good folks at Geico:

The shock of getting into a traffic accident, even a minor one, can leave a driver feeling dazed and confused, but it pays to keep your wits about you at all times. Steven Rutzebeck, director of GEICO’s Special Investigations Unit, explains how to foil potential fraudsters in the moments immediately after a car crash. Having dealt with insurance fraud throughout his career, Rutzebeck knows exactly what to look for.

GEICO More (GM): As you know, traffic accidents do happen and sometimes it’s tempting to give the other driver the benefit of the doubt. But is it ever smart to wash your hands of it and just walk away from a car crash, even a minor fender bender?

Steven Rutzebeck (SR): Not a good idea. At the scene of an accident, you need to get a clear picture of what actually happened. Use your cellphone to take photos of the damaged vehicles, license plates, the people involved, even their driver’s license, if possible. A police officer also serves as an impartial observer of the condition of the vehicles and their occupants, so you have nothing to worry about if a problem presents itself later (if the other party changes their story, for example, and all of a sudden it becomes your fault).

GM: In movies and on TV, we often see depictions of a fraudulent claimant hobbling into court on crutches or in a wheelchair, wearing bandages and a neck brace. But does that stuff really happen?

SR: You’d be surprised by what some people try to get away with. But if there’s very minor damage to the vehicle and all the occupants appear to be injured, and to an extent that doesn’t correlate to the amount of trauma created by the impact, you can be sure the injuries either do not exist or are being enhanced.
GM: Why do they go to such ridiculous lengths?

SR: These farces are often financially motivated. If someone’s bent on staging an accident and wants to incorporate an innocent party, they usually look for high-end vehicles; they also target elderly drivers. But with a typical fender bender, some people see an opportunity to make money out of it.

GM: In a courtroom, the judge considers many factors to determine who’s telling the truth. With insurance fraud, how can you tell when someone’s fibbing?

SR: As we like to say, “The truth never changes.” If you’re being truthful, minor aspects of the story might change slightly over time, but the basic concept will always stay the same because it’s true and you remember it. When people are telling falsehoods, it’s hard for them to keep all the particulars in line and remember what they’ve said.

Labels: , , ,

--> www.FedPrimeRate.com Privacy Policy <--


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Don't Idle Next to Monstrous Tractor Trailers At Traffic Lights!

Figure A: tractor trailer accident at traffic lightYesterday, I witnessed a very ugly and senseless car accident. Thankfully, no one got hurt, but it was still very ugly to watch. I also learned a very valuable lesson from a very smart driver.

I was in the far right lane of a 4-lane road, a few cars back from a traffic light ahead. To my left was a lady in a Toyota Camry. To her left was one of the biggest tractor trailers I've ever seen. The cabin was so high off the ground that the driver was almost eye-to-eye with the traffic light, no exaggeration.

Now, this lady -- I will refer to her as Ms. Camry from now on -- was waiting for the traffic light to turn green like everyone else, except she was idling next to me, which was about 3-4 car lengths from the car in front of her. In other words, there was a huge gap between Ms. Camry, who was next to me, and the car in front of her, which was a green Cadillac (Mr. Cadi) sedan waiting at the light. Mr. Cadi was idling in pole position at the light, right next to the tractor section of the massive tractor trailer (Monster TT.) Ms. Camry had positioned herself to the right of, and next to the rear wheels of, the Monster TT. I realize that my description of this scene may not be adequate to get the right picture in your head, so I put together a quick diagram (see Figure A at the top left of this entry.)

OK, so as soon as the light turned green, another very strange thing happened: Ms Camry started blaring her horn repeatedly, as if trying to get someone's attention. I scanned the scene and saw nothing that would justify her repeated honking. I was beginning to think that Ms. Camry was playing with a few toys in the attic.

Figure B: tractor trailer accident at traffic light
Then I saw what she was honking at. Monster TT had started to turn into the lane next him, but the driver hadn't bothered to check if there was a car in that spot. Carelessly, the driver of the truck began turning into the lane to the right of him, and -- you guessed it -- he struck the side of Mr. Cadi's car, in the left-front quarter panel (see Figure B to the right.)

The very wise Ms. Camry had seen the accident coming. That's why she had been idling a few cars lengths behind Mr. Cadi, and it's also why she had been honking her horn in earnest when the truck started moving. What else could she do? Prior to the accident, she probably wanted to step out of her car and warn the truck driver, but then she probably thought, "but he's a professional. He's not going to do anything stupid like turn into the next lane without checking first." Unfortunately for Mr. Cadi, her worst fears came true.

You would think that a driver of such a massive vehicle would have more sense. Aren't these folks trained to avoid such accidents? I know what he was trying to do: e was trying to get over to the right side of the road so that he could enter the parking lot of a Wawa store. But he was very stupid for assuming that the lane next to him would be empty.

Back in the early 90's, I witnessed a terrible tractor trailer accident on my way back from Ohio. A similar truck inadvertently force a car off the interstate and into a deep ravine. The truck driver wasn't aware that he had just caused a serious accident. A number of drivers on the highway signaled him to stop, which he eventually did. My friend and I pulled over to check on the accident victims. They were fine, but very rattled. There was a look in their eyes: it was the look of stark realization that they'd come as close as anyone can get to meeting their maker. Their car was totaled. They refused our help, and insisted that we leave them alone. They may have thought that our intention was to try and take advantage of their fractured and vulnerable state and do something evil like rob them, or worse. They were shaking with fear and had gone into total defense mode. They said they'd be OK, so after offering assistance one more time, we left them and called for help. I felt bad for them, because the car was full of household items and many items looked damaged.

So, yeah: I've learned to stay as far away from tractor trailers as possible when I'm driving. It doesn't matter if I'm on the highway or on a local road, I either downshift and pass them or I stay behind them in an adjacent lane. I NEVER driver next to them. And now, thanks to Ms. Camry, I've learned to avoid idling next to one at a traffic light.

I've also leaned to avoid driving directly behind big trucks. Trucks often kick up stones and other hard road debris that tend to hit my windshield with force, which on more than one occasion has resulted in an annoying chip in my glass (and, of course, the chip seems to always end up in my functional field of view!)tractor trailer accident But there's another far more serious reason for avoiding the rear of a big truck while driving: trailers tend to have massive wheels and beds set high in the air, so if you end up smashing into the back end of one of these monsters, the trailer's extremely solid bed will likely make contact with your windshield instead of the front end of your car (see image to the left.) So, instead of your airbags deploying and you surviving, your car's front end could slide under the trailer's rear, and you could easily lose your head, literally. "Underride accidents" are not uncommon, despite the fact that modern trucks are required to have safety bumpers installed. The unfortunate truth is that many older tractor trailers don't have underride additions, and these add-on bumpers often collapse when they make contact with another vehicle.

I hope the careless driver who ruined Mr. Cadi's day got a heavy suspension and a fine for his nonsense. He needs a serious reminder of just how responsible one must be to drive a 20 ton commercial vehicle. I don't mean to be negative, but large vehicles should only be entrusted to the most professional drivers.

Labels: ,

--> www.FedPrimeRate.com Privacy Policy <--


Monday, October 19, 2009

The Right Choice Got Me Two Traffic Tickets

fighting an unjust traffic ticketThe other day I was cruising down a local boulevard, a three-lane road that's peppered with traffic lights. I was on my way to a supermarket to do some food shopping, so I wasn't in any kind of hurry.

I came upon an extremely busy intersection, an intersection that just happens to be famous for being one of the most dangerous intersection in the country, due to the number of accidents that happen there. It's 4 lanes of traffic, with a local and express lane for each direction. If you've never driven on this boulevard before, turning onto this road from an intersecting one can be very confusing and very hazardous. Drivers often end up turning into the wrong lane, and then have to deal with driving up a road where everyone else driving in the opposite direction. It's sound ugly and scary, and it is. When you add lots of impatient drivers trying to get home during rush hour to the mix, it a recipe for disaster.

I was not new to this intersection, so I knew how to handle it. Whenever I reach this intersection and the traffic light has just turned green, I generally slow down a little and cross it without a hitch. If I'm not sure if the traffic light is about to turn yellow, I take it easy and start slowing down a good distance from the light, so that I don't have to worry about hesitating or stopping hard and possibly causing an accident.

I was very close to passing through the traffic light when an extremely aggressive driver showed up on my tail, seemingly out of nowhere. He was tailgating me hard, and I have no tolerance for tailgaters. My plan was to go through the traffic light, change lanes, then pull up next to him and give him a lesson on why it's really stupid to tailgate. At that point, the traffic light turned yellow, and I eased through the intersection. To my surprise, the aggressive tailgater slammed on his brakes, and came to a complete stop. He slammed his brakes so hard that a small plume of smoke rose from his tires, and there was a loud screech.

Then it was time for surprise #2: a police van turned onto the boulevard behind me, and pulled me over. I was cool, because I had done nothing wrong. I released my seat belt, reached over to the glove compartment and retrieved my driver license and vehicle registration. Just trying to be efficient. A police officer came to the driver-side window and asked, "Didn't you see the traffic light?"

"Oh, I know all about that traffic light. It had just turned yellow when the front of my car passed through the intersection," I replied.

"License and registration," she demanded.

"Sure," I answered, and handed her my documents.

"OK. Wait here," she grunted.

When the police officer returned, she gave me two tickets: one for running a red light, and another for driving without a seat belt. As you might have already guessed, I was outraged.

"First of all, the light was yellow. Second, I was wearing my belt. I took it off to get my driver documents," I said firmly, without yelling.

"If you get another ticket from the traffic camera system, you can ignore it. Just pay the ticket I gave you," she advised as she simultaneously ignored my protests.

And at that, the police officer turned and walked back to the police van before I could get another word in. I switched on my interior light to examine the tickets further, at which point I heard a short blast from the siren of the police van. It was the cops telling me to move along. Lovely.

My instincts prompted me to get out of my car and confront the officers in the van, but then I ran through a number of possible outcomes in my head, and decided that temperance was the better choice of action. I turned off my hazards, and made my to the supermarket.

I will be fighting both tickets, of course. I'm good at it. The last time I was in traffic court, it was to fight a ticket given to me for making a right turn at a red light at an intersection that doesn't allow it. My defense was that the No Turn On Red sign was blocked by a bus so I wasn't able to see it. It was the truth. I took a few pictures with my digital camera to support my case. I had to stand and wait at a street corner for a few minutes for bus to show up, so that I could show the before and after shots, but it was summer so I didn't mind. I won the case, easily.

In my opinion, I made the right choice by going through the yellow light. If I had decided to brake instead, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I would have been involved in an accident. The accident would have resulted in:

  • Costly repairs: I have comprehensive insurance coverage, but I would still have to pay a deductible.
  • Ruined vehicle history report: my car has never been involved in an accident, which adds to it's resale value. An accident would have been noted on my car's vehicle history report (CarFax, AutoCheck, etc.)
  • Higher insurance premium: my car insurance premium would go up, no doubt.
  • Serious injuries, or death: the accident could have caused a multi-car pileup, which could cause serious injuries and perhaps even cause a fatality or two.

So, readers, I ask you: what would you have done? stopped hard and let the tailgater slam into your rear causing a serious accident, or cruised through what was clearly a yellow light?

So here's the funny part. I posted the above story to a popular Internet forum where all kinds of police officers (county, state, etc.) hang out. Most cops wrote that I should just go to court and let a judge decide. I was OK with those responses. But one police officer actually posted that if he had been in my shoes, he would have stopped at the light and let the accident happen. He wrote that he would have preferred that because it might have resulted in a generous insurance settlement. Yep: I guess there's one in every bunch. A sickening example of just how perversely litigious our society has become.

Comments are always welcome and appreciated.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

--> www.FedPrimeRate.com Privacy Policy <--




This website is neither affiliated nor associated with The United States Federal Reserve
in any way. Information in this website is provided for educational purposes only. The owners
of this website make no warranties with respect to any and all content contained within this
website. Consult a financial professional before making important decisions related to any
investment or loan product, including, but not limited to, business loans, personal loans,
education loans, first or second mortgages, credit cards, car loans or any type of insurance.

Entire Website © 2024 FedPrimeRate.comSM