August 23, 2013 8.30 am This story is over 128 months old

Fraudulent claims: Car insurers must “put their house in order”

Not fair on drivers: Insurers are driving up the cost of car insurance premiums for honest motorists by obtaining compensation for claimants who have lied about the extent of their injury.

It seems the topic of fraudulent claims after car accidents is never far from the headlines. It has recently raised its ugly head once again because of the increasing practice of claimants being encouraged to falsify or exaggerate claims for personal injury after they have been in an accident.

You may be surprised to learn that it is not lawyers who are the main culprit for doing this, but the car insurers themselves.

By obtaining compensation for claimants who have lied about the extent of their injury or were not even injured at all, the insurers are driving up the cost of car insurance premiums for honest motorists.

A group of MPs recently produced a report criticising the car insurance industry for inflating the cost of car insurance premiums by paying out settlements for whiplash claims without first seeing any medical evidence or proof from the claimant that they went to hospital, or to see their GP, after the accident.

They even paid out compensation in some situations where fraud was suspected because this would be less costly than going to court.

The report said that “insurers must immediately put their house in order” and reform the system in order to clean up the claims process and attempt to reduce the increasing insurance premiums.

It makes several recommendations, which include creating a requirement for proof from a doctor of the existence of whiplash before a claim is settled and having routine checks on medical reports to ensure their accuracy.

The UK has been described as the whiplash capital of the world and is said to have 78% of low value personal injury claims from motor accidents being for whiplash, compared with 48% in the rest of Europe.

However, the MPs have emphasised that the distinct lack of statistics in relation to road traffic accidents in the UK makes it difficult to identify how many of these claims are fraudulent.

This is an encouraging development and the government needs to follow through with recommendations to ensure that the insurance industry do not needlessly encourage anyone involved.

John Knight is the Head of the Personal Injury and Medical Negligence departments at Ringrose Law. He has worked in the Personal Injury team at Ringrose Law since 2003, and particularly specialises in complex and high value claims such as accidents at work, road traffic accidents and accidents resulting in death. He also specialises in representing families at inquests and helping people suffering serious injuries from assaults or other criminal activities via the Criminal Injury Compensation Authority.