Name and report firms to police and professional regulators or your cries of a fraud crisis ring hollow, Thompsons Solicitors tells insurers15 December 2015
Insurers are ‘talking up a crisis’ to suit their agenda, says Tom Jones, Head of Policy
Personal injury law firm Thompsons Solicitors is calling out the UK motor insurance industry over its use of poor data and hyperbole.
A behind closed door meeting between representatives from UK motor insurance companies and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) reported by industry publication The Post [27 November], will apparently take place on 9 December 2015 to discuss law firms who the insurers claim are facilitating fraudulent claims. It comes in the wake of repeated unverified claims about fraud and a series of limits being placed on road traffic accident victims' access to justice.
An agenda reported on by the Post suggests that insurers will urge the SRA to be a ‘stronger regulator than it currently is’ and how to ‘clamp down on alleged unscrupulous business practices among certain elements of the law firms it regulates’.
The Association of British Insurers have alleged that there were 67,000 ‘fraudulent’ cases in 2014 however it admits it does not independently verify these figures.
“The actual number of prosecutions for personal injury fraud is miniscule suggesting that the numbers reported are equally small. What we have is the insurers talking up a crisis because it suits them. By lumping all personal injury law firms and all their genuinely injured clients in with those they apparently know to be dodgy they muddy the water” says Tom Jones, head of policy at Thompsons Solicitors.
“If insurers really do have evidence of personal injury firms behaving fraudulently or helping their clients to commit fraud then why have they sat on it? Why have they just talked about it? Any evidence they have should have been put before the police without delay.
“Instead of handing any evidence of wrongdoing over to the correct authorities what the insurers seem intent on doing with that evidence – if it exists at all – is to exaggerate it and use it as a lobbying tool to undermine the rights of injured people and increase their profits,” continues Tom Jones.
“For years now we have been saying to the insurance industry if there is evidence of fraud expose the fraudsters and help stamp out unprofessionalism in the sector but only now are they apparently stepping up to the plate. Given there is no one definition of fraud and most of their criteria seems to be speculative we suspect their hard evidence is much less than they claim and those involved will be a tiny minority of the UK’s 9,000 personal injury firms. That tiny majority has been exaggerated to push forward an agenda that is about stripping away the right to be represented by an independent solicitor for the vast majority of accident victims who are entirely honest.”
“If insurers have their way and the proposals outlined in the Autumn Statement go ahead, road accident victims will be left representing themselves against massive corporations or receiving legal advice from lawyers whose paymasters are the very insurance companies they are claiming against.”
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