ALARMING new figures show Huddersfield has become one of the national hotspots for car insurance fraud.
The town was among the 10 worst places for dodgy claims in 2008.
In many cases claimants intentionally cause accidents with innocent drivers to land a payout.
They may then try to pocket more cash by inventing injuries so they can win compensation.
Law firm Keoghs, which investigates suspected fraudulent claims, has published its annual motor fraud index.
The report puts Huddersfield ninth worst in the country – up nine places since last year and 16 since 2007.
It says the town is one of several that have risen significantly up the ‘hotspots’ list.
The report says: “Huddersfield in particular has seen a substantial increase in suspicious claims.
“Before 2007, Huddersfield was 24th on the list, with 1.2% of all suspicious claims originating from the town.
“After two years of back-to-back growth in claims, the town is now ninth on the list, accounting for 3.2% of all suspicious claims.
“It will be interesting to see whether the town experiences a third year of growth in 2009.”
The motor fraud index is an analysis of all suspicious claims submitted to the insurance companies Keoghs represents.
The league table is based on information about where the claimants are from, rather than where accidents have taken place.
Bradford is the worst place for insurance claims, according to the figures. Birmingham is second, followed by Blackburn, Liverpool, Oldham, Manchester, Bolton, Southall and the Huddersfield.
But Huddersfield is top of the list of so-called ‘new problem zones.’ Of the 4,500 suspicious claimants looked at, 144 were from the town.
The report says: “For some time now we have been warning insurers of the so-called ‘jam sandwich effect’ whereby fraudsters who are increasingly being squeezed by the insurance industry’s focus on insurance fraud will spread out in search of what they perceive to be softer targets.
“Our concern is that fraudsters may now be seeking softer targets in these neighbouring towns.”
Det Chief Insp Paul Lambotte, head of the Association of Chief Police Officers’ Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (AVCIS), said funds from dodgy claims were often used by people involved in serious organised crime.
He added: “We are particularly concerned about staged accidents.
“They will obtain a vehicle, take out valid insurance and then arrange for another vehicle to pull out in front of the first vehicle so they have to brake suddenly, causing an innocent third party to run into them.
“As well as insurance claims, they will often try to claim compensation for injuries to several passengers even if there was only one person in the car.
“That can be a big problem, because you can claim a lot more from a compensation payout than you can, say, for theft of a vehicle.”