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'Smart' cameras to nail fraudsters

2013-11-12 05:57

GOTCHA! A chauffeur company is set to save thousands of rands by installing Smart Witness cameras in its fleet of 460 vehicles in a bid to catch insurance fraudsters. Newspress

LONDON, England – A British chauffeur company is expected to save as much as R960 000 a year by installing Smart Witness cameras in its fleet of 460 vehicles by catching out insurance fraudsters.

Tristar Worldwide, based in Middlesex, England, has fitted each of its vehicles with a recording device after staff became concerned about "cash for crash" fraudsters who deliberately cause accidents to file damage and bogus injury claims.

Fleet manager Janusz Kozlowski said he had already noticed many benefits since installing the cameras in May 2013.

'IMPROVED BEHAVIOUR'

Kozlowski  said: "The cameras have definitely improved the behaviour of the chauffeurs because our at-fault accident rate has reduced by almost half to about four or five incidents a month, against the same five-month period of 2012.

"I would estimate we will save about R960 000 a year based on fewer accidents and because we will be less likely to be targeted by 'cash for crash' fraud. We also expect our insurance premiums to reduce."

With a reduced accident rate, Tristar’s Fleet team is also spending less time administering claims and trying to establish liability. Kozlowski added that the cameras had already quickly resolved one dispute after a Tristar vehicle was hit in a motorway collision in September.

"A car collided with one of our Mercedes as it crossed lanes on the motorway, causing about the equivalent damage R66 360," he explained. "The third party drove off but our chauffeur noted the registration number and the driver of the vehicle was tracked down.

"They denied any involvement but the evidence was provided by the Smart Witness camera and it was there in full-colour video. Without the camera we would have had no chance of resolving the dispute."

550 000 CLAIMS A YEAR

However, Kozlowski explained that the company had not been so lucky before installing the cameras: "Following an accident, we received multiple whiplash claims but our chauffeur only remembered seeing one person in the other vehicle. However, there was no proof."

See a typical whiplash video here.

Around 550 000 whiplash claims a year are filed in the UK but insurance experts have estimated that 60% are bogus. It makes the "cash for crash" scam a R16-billion-a-year 'business'.

The shocking figures were given to MP's by insurers who said the UK had now become the whiplash capital of the world.

Smart Witness MD Simon Marsh said: “Our cameras have demonstrated time and time again that the evidence they can provide during a dispute is simply invaluable. They have already helped save our customers thousands of pounds in reduced insurance premiums and with a 40% increase in sales recently we know the savings will just keep going up.

Smart Witness cameras, a bit like a black box journey recorder, mount on the windscreen, are powered through the car's cigarette lighter or can be wired-in. They record the driver's view of the road ahead and monitor the car's location, speed, braking and impact G-forces.

They start (in the UK) at about R2 400 to R3800.
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