Spurious claims need no help from claims management companies

Industry news roundup: week ended 25 Aug 2014:

The number of ‘ambulance chasing’ claims management companies is at an all-time low, yet there are still plenty of spurious claims being made in the UK.

Do you remember the furore over claims management companies a year or so ago? These rogue firms were blamed for drumming up all sorts of spurious personal injury claims by sending unsolicited texts and phone calls to anyone and everyone they could think of that might be interested in bringing an accident claim. The practice was severely curtailed in April of last year thanks to some well-placed regulatory changes, and for the most part these changes have worked – there are 600 fewer CMCs in operation today than there were in 2013.

This should be a victory for anyone concerned with spurious personal injury compensation claims, right? Well guess what – there’s still plenty of that going around, even though there’s hardly any CMCs left. So much for the idea that there’s all these ambulance chasers drumming up business for personal injury lawyers.

So where are all the new compensation claims coming from? Well over the last 12 months there was almost £600,000 in compensation paid out by West Midlands Police for instance, and all for seemingly spurious reasons such as falling off faulty chairs, slipping on a wet floor or having difficulties entering and exiting a police vehicle. Oh, and a dog bite as well, mustn’t forget that.

Now I’m not going to say that we shouldn’t take care of officers of the law that injure themselves in the line of duty  – but for pity’s sake, it’s not like these individuals were hurt in the course of their duties of serving and protecting the people of the West Midlands. Let’s not forget that this is all taxpayer cash being expended to take care of all these clumsy crybabies that can’t walk down a bloody corridor without falling flat on their faces and bruising their bums. What kind of incompetent flatfoots do we have keeping us all safe? How can they end up keeping the peace if they can’t even keep upright in a wet corridor?

Accident claim winners waste money left and right

Industry news roundup: week ended 18 Aug 2014:

Claimants who win personal injury compensation claims are often accused of being a waste of money, but this week the news tops that by a long country mile.

Now normally I’m the first person out there to say that people who make accident claims often need the cash to take care of things such as lost wages or medical costs. This is still true; however there are all too many instances where it seems like a total waste of money to pay off a claimant, and this week was filled with news stories that made me just shake my head in impotent rage.

First up was one miserable story about how Norfolk Police spent nearly  £400,000 over the last year in compensation payouts, not just to members of the public but its own staff members as well. A new Freedom of Information request discovered that Norfolk Police paid the cash out over only 48 claims, and the only other police force that paid out more was London’s Metropolitan Police.

Now is it just me or does this seem like a supreme waste of money to you? Wouldn’t those £400,000 be much better spent on things such as better infrastructure and more well-funded emergency services? The Taxpayers’ Alliance agrees with me, for what it’s worth: a spokesman said that there’s either far too many spurious claims going on or that the police force in general is just terribly careless when it comes to preventing accidental injury. I’m more than willing to entertain the thought that there’s some coppers out there playing fast and loose with safety rules. The only thing worse about this is that it’s all taxpayer cash that’s being sucked away by these poor decisions!

And speaking of poor decisions, get a load of this story: an 18 year old who was injured in a legitimate personal injury claim decided to turn around and use some of his cash award to purchase drugs. Not just a little bit, either – the man had 900 tablets of diazepam on his person when he was apprehended by the police. The dullard claimed that he ‘didn’t know’ what the drugs were but he had been told that they were legal. This one is definitely going into the record books, if you ask me!

Not all accident claim fraudsters are criminal masterminds

Industry news roundup: week ended 11 Aug 2014:

While insurers will like to tell you that accident claim fraud is a serious problem right now, the truth is that scammers are caught red handed all the time.

Truth be told, when it comes to spurious personal injury claims, very little fraud actually goes undetected. In fact there number of criminal masterminds operating sophisticated fraud rings are few and far between – most are complete amateurs trying to get some extra cash from their car accident claims after initiating a poorly-planned and sloppily-executed cash for crash type scam.

Want a good example: well hold on to your knickers, as this week there’s not one but two fantastic ones that will show you just how daft some of these individuals are. First up was the story of how a pair of step-siblings had their plan to fake a pair of whiplash claims were uncovered. 62 year old Steven Phillips hired a van, apparently without realizing there was a GPS tracker fitted to it, and then rang up his step-sister 57 year old Terrina Downes and staged a crash on a secluded roadway – then reported the incident as happening somewhere completely different. Needless to say the car hire firm investigated the issue and blew the whole scheme wide open, much to the chagrin of Downes and Phillips!

So yes that’s rather daft, don’t you think? For what it’s worth some fraudsters are even more stupid. Don’t believe me? Well think about this story: a particularly dim-witted scammer named Kyle Denton, who had injured his hand rather badly in a drunken altercation with another man, tried to pass the injury off as stemming from a run in with a pothole that caused him to trip and fall. He almost got away with it too, but for his own absolute stupidity: he had already met with his local authority to start the compensation process, but then the pillock went and posted a picture of his injured finger on Facebook – along with a message about how he had actually been in a punch-up.

So you see? These are the kinds of absolute geniuses trying to defraud insurers and local authorities. Do you really think fraud is still that much of a problem?

Aviva pushes for consultation, research refutes their claims

Industry news roundup: week ended 4 Aug 2014:

Major insurance provider Aviva has been pushing for a Government consultation on whiplash claims, yet even as they do so evidence emerges that it’s not needed.

The insurer has been whinging lately about how much money it’s shelling out when it comes to personal injury compensation attached to whiplash claims. Fraud is incredibly rampant, Aviva says, and the number of spurious accident claims being made against it are positively crippling it financially. To that effect it made waves last week in pushing for an idea as absolutely stupid as it is revolutionary: eliminating cash awards for whiplash claims and instead only providing rehabilitation. Aviva’s idea is that it will eliminate fraud since there’s no actual cash awards any more.

The idea is of course laughable, but Aviva is married to the concept. It’s even gone so far as to urge the Ministry of Justice to conduct a public consultation in the hopes that it will build up steam. I suppose you have to give the insurer credit where it’s due by not giving up, but I don’t really think they’re going to get anywhere with this whole concept. Meanwhile new research has just come to light that reveals how flawed Aviva’s approach might be – a new YouGov poll revealed that the number of people making claims for personal injury are relatively low.

In fact, YouGov found that today only one out of every four Brits that suffered an accident or injury of any kind would actually pursue a personal injury compensation claim today. That’s a drop of about four percentage points from the last YouGov poll in 2013, indicating that there are actually less people inclined to make claims against insurers today than there were just 12 short months ago. Fewer potential claimants means fewer claims as well – and that means less money flowing out of Aviva’s coffers (or the coffers of all insurers) and into the pockets of the injured.

Apparently that’s just not enough for Aviva; they want to limit their liability by much more. I’m sure they’d love that but that’s not how this game is played – if Aviva wants to not pay so much in whiplash claims maybe it should run a few advert campaigns on not driving like bloody lunatics. It would likely be more effective in the long run.