Leading law firm Thompsons Solicitors is challenging AVIVA to open its books to independent scrutiny after its puzzling allegations this week about whiplash fraud.

Spokespeople for the leading car insurer have been, on the one hand, arguing there is a “plague” and a “pandemic” of fraudulent whiplash claims while, on the other, saying it is investigating only about 5% of the estimated 80,000 plus claims it receives for the injury.

AVIVA’s chief executive Mark Wilson wrote in The Times that government plans to stop cash compensation for whiplash claims “would end the fraud pandemic” and were “a win for the consumer” that would “benefit honest motorist[s].”

But Thompsons says, even on AVIVA’s own figures, the terms “plague” and “pandemic” are gross exaggerations being used to deny compensation in 95% of cases which the insurers accept are genuine.

“Every definition of plague and pandemic refers to ‘a large number’. Whilst no fraud is acceptable, 5% is not a large number in anyone’s books and should be tackled by a denial of compensation and prosecutions. This is hyperbole to justify insurance driven government reforms that suit the insurers not the consumer. The vast majority of injured motorists, who on these figures AVIVA accept are honest, are going to lose out,” said Tom Jones, head of policy at Thompsons.

“It’s interesting that AVIVA can produce statistics like these yet it has repeatedly refused to publish figures for its profits and the number of car insurance claims it handles. We can find nothing that begins to justify the idea of a ‘plague’ or a ‘pandemic’ from AVIVA’s press releases and annual reports. We can’t even see a bit of a fig leaf for the swingeing changes to the small claims limit being proposed by the government that the industry is so keen to line up behind.”

Thompsons’ analysis of published AVIVA statements shows the company:

  • insures just over 10% of motorists or 2.5m drivers
  • alleges the industry as a whole received 840,000 whiplash claims in 2014
  • says its own fraud department is investigating 4,000 cases of ‘suspected’ fraud (note that this is not the number of cases it is prosecuting and there is no definition of ‘suspected’).


“Assuming AVIVA receives about 10% (84,000) of the claimed industry-wide total for whiplash claims, the 4,000 it says it ‘suspects’ of being fraudulent is less than 5% of its total case load,” adds Tom Jones.

“There is no evidence that all or any of these ‘suspected’ cases are ultimately turned down, but let’s assume they were and pursued to a criminal conviction (as they should be if they were fraudulent): how can it be right for the government to suggest laws that will deny compensation to the 95% of injured claimants who are honest? It’s a bit like punishing the whole class when the teacher knows who behaved badly.

“If AVIVA wants such a radical change in personal injury law, they need to open their books to independent scrutiny so that their figures can be verified. Insurers may be the first to line up and support these government reforms but their assertions are largely inconsistent and they have a huge commercial interest in seeing them through.”