How not to commit insurance fraud

Before it was commonplace to film everything ever, it used to be difficult to prove things. This was particularly troublesome for insurance companies when they receive a claim from one involved party saying that something happened, but then they hear from the other involved party saying that what happened was actually completely different. It ended up being one person’s word against the other, and with very little concrete evidence, it was difficult to prove things one way or the other.

Now that everyone is eager to whip out their phones and start recording everything around them—even if it entails failing to act, and filming an emergency in lieu of helping a person or situation in need—it becomes much easier to see what actually happened.

As dash cams become much more popular, people attempting to commit automobile insurance fraud are discouraged because it’s very difficult to get away with something if there is video evidence clearly illustrating that the alleged perpetrator was actually the victim. Dash cam footage can literally be the difference between getting charged with manslaughter if someone intentionally jumps in front of your vehicle, and proving your innocence and avoiding prison time. So, of course, I have a dash cam.

Luckily, my situation wasn’t quite as severe as the manslaughter example above. I also don’t know if this was actually attempted insurance fraud, or if it was just a malfunctioning vehicle. Either way, I’m glad I have the dash cam footage in case I later get wrongly accused of a hit-and-run, and because it makes for an entertaining blog post.


Heading westbound on Sahara Avenue, I merge into the left-most left turn lane and approach a white sedan already at the light before me.


I come to a complete stop. The brake lights of the white sedan in front of me turn off and the vehicle slowly begins creeping back­wards.


The white sedan makes impact with the front of my vehicle. For a few seconds, I continue feeling the white sedan push­ing back against me, my truck supporting the weight of the sedan.

The driver of the white sedan begins making hand gestures and looks vis­i­bly distressed, but does not exit her vehicle. I suspect that she is attempting to commit insurance fraud, so I point towards my dash cam. She stops motioning and pulls forward. I drive a bit closer to read her license plate, but due to the dark tinted cover mounted on top of her plate, I’m unable to read the characters.


The light turns green and the white sedan begins driving. I follow the vehicle for nearly two minutes, but it does not pull over.


The vehicle changes lanes into a two-lane left turn, so I merge into the lane next to it and pull up beside her.


I roll down my passenger-side window to converse with the driver. The driver rolls down her window and begins yelling, asking why I had rear-ended her and whether I had a problem with her. I, having nothing to be mad about, calmly inform her that she is the one who backed into me, then pointed to my dash cam again, reminding her that I have video footage.

I ask her if she is having a medical emergency that caused her to lose control of her vehicle, and whether or not I needed to call EMS, to which she did not respond. She states that it is impossible she backed into me because she puts her vehicle in Park at stop lights.

I inquired whether she intends to pull over, to which she did not respond. She asks if there is any damage to the rear of her vehicle, to which I respond that I am unsure, as it is difficult to see from far away. I offer to pull over into a nearby parking lot with her to assess her vehicle for any damage and file a police report if needed. She replies “no, thank you” and rolls up her window.


She pulls her vehicle up so we can no longer make eye contact.

So to get the obvious question out of the way: Why didn’t I force her to pull over, continue following her, put more effort into getting her license plate, etc.?

Well, I drive a pickup truck with a grille guard mounted to the frame that protects the front end of my vehicle. These things can easily clock in at over a hundred pounds of steel, and are designed to protect the vehicle against threats like unexpected wild animals, plow through thick branches while driving through dense forests, and deflect rocks kicked up by vehicles in front of you in off-roading situations.

Needless to say, a small sedan backing into me wouldn’t even leave a scratch.

GMC Canyon in Santa Ana Mountains

So, what do I think happened? Of course, this could have been an attempted insurance scam, where she backs into me and claims that I rear-ended her, then if I didn’t have dash cam footage of the incident, I would be blamed because it’s more likely that I drove into her when she was stopped still at the red light than it is for her to put her car into reverse and back into me.

But, remember how she said that it’s “impossible” that she backed into me because she puts her vehicle in Park at stop lights?

I think a more likely explanation of what happened here is that, after stopping at the red light, she intended to shift her automatic transmission to Park, but didn’t shift it all the way, and stopped it at Reverse instead. Thinking she was in Park, she let go of the brake pedal, causing her vehicle to roll back­wards. After thinking she was in Park, she might have distracted herself (e.g., by looking down at her phone) and not even noticed she was rolling backwards.

Moral of the story? Get a dash cam.