Leading law firm Thompsons Solicitors says a staggering 25% profits rise announced this morning by AXA does not square with claims that car insurers are being hit by a fraud ‘pandemic’ that requires draconian measures to restrict access to justice for motorists.

Only three months after welcoming government plans to increase the small claims limit from £1,000 to £5,000, AXA has published its results for 2015 without making any reference to fraud being a problem.

The Paris-based insurance giant has also again failed to publish separate trading figures for UK car insurance, despite being criticised previously in Parliament for burying the profit it makes from motorists in the UK in figures for all types of non-life insurance it sells in both the UK and Ireland.

Its report said UK and Ireland general insurance had generated revenue of £4.1 billion (up 7%) and profit of £312m (up 25%), boasting that profits growth had been in double digits for a fifth successive year.

“Profits are up, and no mention is made of fraud or whiplash – it doesn’t make sense after all the talk of a ‘crisis’ and a ‘pandemic’. How on earth are the public supposed to work out what’s going on?” said Tom Jones, head of policy at Thompsons Solicitors.

“It would help if AXA had the decency to publish separate trading figures for the UK car insurance market, as some of the other insurers do. But we also need transparency about claims and fraud so that the consumers can judge for themselves whether or not they are getting a fair deal.

“Insurers have been pressuring the government to increase the small claims limit so that, in 70% of cases, people injured in road accidents will have to either pay for legal representation out of their own pocket or take on the insurers – who will have lawyers - on their own and in their own time.

“It’s a massive tipping of the scales of justice in favour of the insurers, and it’s being justified on the basis that there is a fraud ‘pandemic’ – yet insurers such as AXA do not reveal separate trading figures for car insurance and none of them are being required to produce evidence of fraud, never mind subject it to independent scrutiny.

“Meanwhile, the government says its reforms will deliver a £50 saving to every motorist but is refusing to intervene in the market to ensure these savings can be quantified and to allow motorists to monitor whether or not they are being passed on.

“AXA’s repeated failure to provide separate trading figures for UK car insurance is symptomatic of the lack of transparency about car insurance generally. This is a compulsory product and consumers are entitled to full disclosure and independent verification of all relevant information on profits, premiums and claims.”