On this one GAP claim, Crawford Legal Services saved our client over £20k after uncovering the alleged car “accident” was deliberately orchestrated by the policyholder in order to profit.
Introducing “Gaz” (name changed for privacy reasons). Gaz alleged his Audi A3 was a ‘total loss’ as a result of a transit van ramming into its rear while parked. The road traffic accident took place on the last day of a three-year policy term (“accident” this close to the end of the policy are often red flags for fraud).
Gaz had two residences a short distance apart in the Gorton area of Manchester: one for the family, the second for ‘entertaining’. It was outside the latter residence where Gaz had parked his car. One Sunday morning he was woken by a neighbour alerting him to the incident. “Aaron”, a person allegedly not known to Gaz, had driven into his Audi.
The RTA insurer had provided a flexible and temporary motor insurance cover (for as little as just one hour). Gaz’s car was recovered to an accident management company in Stockport. The main issue, according to Gaz’s engineer was that the Audi gearbox “didn’t feel right” and the car was apparently uneconomic to repair. The motor insurer accepted the claim without considering potential fraud. The questionable engineering evidence was also never challenged.
Crawford Legal Services was instructed by the GAP insurer to validate the GAP claim, having already noted that Gaz had a conviction for possession of class B drugs (78 cannabis plants in his house) and tampering with the electricity supply.
Gaz’s version of events was straightforward: he didn’t see the accident, he didn’t know the other party, the gearbox was fine prior to the collision and the timing of the accident was coincidental.
“Off the record”, he added that he ‘didn’t need 20k’, he was making that every three months growing and selling cannabis.
Two aspects of CLS’ investigation were crucial:
- The parties (Gaz and Aaron) could not be linked through social data analytics. However, Aaron’s account made little sense. He claimed he intended to drive his dogs to a local park but, when he saw the park was busy, he drove to another park. However, Gaz’s road was on no plausible route for Aaron’s stated journey.
- Aaron claimed he did this drive on a regular basis. But given Cuvva App data facilitates the analysis of previous temporary insurance cover arrangements, things were inconsistent.
CLS’ advice was to the effect that, irrespective of any other issue, the claim could be declined on the grounds it was a staged accident.
However, CLS appointed a forensic engineer to inspect and comment on the damage to the Audi S3, in particular the gearbox. The Audi S3 is a performance hatchback with a launch control feature. Examination of the gearbox confirmed that:
- The gearbox had a failsafe mechanism to protect it from damage that may be caused by impact when the car is parked; and
- The gearbox damage had been caused by excessive use of the launch control feature.
The original gearbox had been replaced by Gaz a year earlier under warranty, again suggesting heavy use or misuse of the launch control feature.
The claim was declined. The claim could not be validated and, furthermore, the car was not rendered a total loss.
What is GAP Insurance?
GAP (Guaranteed Asset Protection) policies are often bought by those buying a new car or near new car. If the car (that is funded by finance) is written-off in an accident or is stolen, the owner could find themselves out of pocket, even after the motor insurer pays out. This is where GAP insurance kicks in. It’s designed to minimise or prevent financial loss to honest policyholders. However, opportunistic and organised fraudsters often attempt to take advantage.