Car insurance company Aviva yesterday has been quoted claiming that ‘whiplash fraud’ has risen 21% in 2014 as a result of so-called ‘crash for cash scams’.
Leading claimant-only law firm Thompsons Solicitors has long challenged the basis of the insurance industry’s statistics around fraud and is now calling on Aviva to show clear empirical evidence to support its assertions.
In addition to suggesting a 21% rise in so-called ‘crash for cash scams’, Aviva is reported in the Daily Express as saying that it deemed 6,500 of its motor injury claims to be ‘suspicious’ and that they were furthermore linked to ‘known fraud gangs’.
Tom Jones, head of policy at Thompsons Solicitors said: “Aviva is the latest in a long line of insurance bodies, which includes the Association of British Insurers, to make sweeping public statements about the amount and cost of motor injury fraud in the UK without ever producing convincing supporting evidence or defining fraud.
“I suspect that they do this to influence not just public perceptions but also government policy – as we’ve already seen with the introduction of the insurer-funded RTA portal and fixed costs.
“Our concern is that these statements are being taken as gospel by the current government and they allow insurers to cry crisis without backing up their allegations by producing the evidence to support them, such as details of how they come to the figures they so often seem virtually to pluck from the air. Surely there is a simple answer – ‘if its fraud or suspected fraud instead of screaming from the rooftops simply don’t pay”.
Counter to the suggestion put forth by Aviva, an investigation by Thompsons in May 2014, which involved Freedom Of Information (FOI) requests to the UK’s eight largest police forces, found that only one – Derbyshire Constabulary – had investigated any instances of fraudulent road traffic accidents (two in total, both being over three years ago) and that none had been found to have links to organised crime.
The Thompsons investigation also found that five of the other forces held no data relating to incidents of ‘crash for cash’. This suggests that crime statistics were not being used as the formal basis for the assertions of the insurance industry about motor industry fraud.
“This is all part of a pattern, it’s a relentless barrage of unsubstantiated statistics and yet this latest salvo is from an organisation which, in April this year, massively backtracked to admit that less than 2% of the claims they deal with are actually fraudulent” continued Tom Jones.
”Yet again we call on the insurers to get their house in order, to publicly back their assertions with hard, empirical evidence about how they calculate their stats, to keep to one clear definition of fraud and not to pay out in cases where they think there is fraud.”
Tom Jones yesterday appeared at The Post Insurance Fraud Conference.