As an insurance agent, I see it everyday – people affected by auto insurance fraud. Cases in which people come in for auto insurance and were in minor fender benders, but the cost of the claim their previous insurance agency was forced to pay was outrageous. Causing them to be dropped or causing premiums to skyrocket.

According to a new study done by the Insurance Research Council, this claim fraud and buildup (inflation of otherwise legitimate claims) accounted for 21% of bodily injury claims and 18% of personal injury protection claims. This translates into a huge increase in auto insurance costs over time for you, the consumer.

And in the case of “hard car insurance scams,” where the accident is caused intentionally for the purpose of filing an insurance claim against you, could cause you bodily injury.

Safe driving for accident prevention is always the first course of action to take to avoid these scams, but there are other ways to protect yourself should an accident occur. recommends that you plan ahead. Keep an accident checklist in your glove compartment to help you along. Chances are you will be rattled after an accident, so a checklist can help you avoid missing important details.

Always Carry a Camera or Smartphone. Photograph ever detail of the accident scene, including all of the cars involved, their license plates, all damage to the cars, the road signs around you, scenery, and even the onlookers. You never know what could potentially be important.

Always Have a Note Pad and Pen Available to Take Notes. Record the following for everyone involved in the accident: Name, address, phone number, driver’s license number and auto insurance information. If at all possible, record the information yourself; don’t let the other driver write down the information. Ask for their driver’s license yourself.

Call The Police. The police report helps protect you against the possibility that the other driver might damage their car more in order to inflate their claim.

Write Down Phone Numbers of Helpful Contacts. Make sure you have the number of reputable towing companies, doctors, attorneys and auto body shops with you. Avoid taking accident advice from ‘helpful’ bystanders. Although they may seem incredibly helpful at the time, they could be involved in the scam and recommend other corrupt services.

Contact Your Insurance Company Immediately. This is important even if you are not at fault, and NEVER sign a blank claim form.

Most importantly, Never Admit Fault. Unless you are a lawyer or policeman, chances are you are not aware of all of the legal intricacies that go into determining fault. Never admit fault after an accident.

All of us are vulnerable to people in society without the best intentions, that want to make a quick buck off of us, but at Henry Insurance Service, we want to make sure that you have all of the information needed to protect yourself against insurance fraud. A better prepared consumer is a smarter consumer.

And as always, feel free to call one of our insurance experts to answer any of your questions about auto insurance, or any other type of insurance you might need.