Personal injury claims drop, pulling insurance costs down

Industry news roundup: week ended 17 Nov 2014:

With the number of injurious car accident claims going down, research says that insurance costs have relaxed a bit in response to the good news.

It’s been something like ten years since personal injury claims in related to third parties have gone down, says the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, and the good news is that this should be driving down insurance costs by quite a bit. The IFoA says that the changes in legal regulations that were set in place in April of 2013 are finally trickling through enough to effect some real change when it comes to the number of personal injury compensation claims being brought against insurers.

Most of the credit, the organisation says, has to go to the LASPO regulations that banned referral fees in 2013. Critics were getting tired of saying how injurious referral fees were to the insurance and the personal injury compensation markets as they led to the rise of those vile bastard claims management companies that specialised in throwing as many injury claims against the wall as they possibly could just to see which ones would stick. Third party legal costs were also curtailed by the regulations, and that meant there has been more money staying in insurers’ coffers than previously – and you know as well as I do how much insurance companies like holding on to other people’s money!

The IFoA says that overall there’s probably been something like a 10 per cent drop in how many third-party insurance claims have been brought since LASPO became law. Only around £238 million has been spent on these claims since then, a nice drop from the £354 million from beforehand; in even better news there are now 35 per cent fewer claims management companies active today than there were prior to LASPO going into effect.

It’s that last statistic that makes me so happy. Honestly I’m chuffed to bits thinking about how all those ambulance-chasing bastards are out of work now. I suppose they’ll have to go find honest jobs like the rest of us, the poor sods. Well, no skin off my nose – if you ask me, they’ve had it coming for years. Good riddance to bad rubbish and all that.

Injury claims: worth an arm and a leg or fall on deaf ears

Industry news roundup: week ended 21 July 2014:

The scope of personal injury claims in the UK is so large that while some people end up literally paying and arm and a leg. others injuries fall on deaf ears.

I’m not being facetious either when I say a personal injury compensation campaign can cost you an arm and a leg. I’m being literal – a German aircraft worker recently won around £600,00 (750,000 euro) in damages after he lost an arm and a leg in an accident at a British airport. It’s been four long years since this poor bloke has had to go without a compensation award, but now the wait is over – and he can finally rest assured that he has the cash he needs to help him manage with two lost limbs. I can only imagine how terrible a time the man’s had over the last four years, especially since his compensation award has been tied up for so long!

Meanwhile not all work accident claims are created equal. It turns out that a new research study released this week found that personal injury claims for industrial deafness have gone up to around 80,000 in 2013 – a jump of more than two thirds. Despite this huge increase – or maybe even because of it – insurers are flat-out refusing deafness claims in droves. In fact, major British insurer Aviva rejects more than 8 out of every 10 claims, claiming that the lion’s share are simply instances of fraud.

Deafness claims are actually rather lucrative from a compensation point of view, with industry analysts claiming that insurers could end up paying anywhere from £300 million to £500 million on an annual basis, and that’s if only 30 per cent of claims were actually permitted to be brought. That might be a drop in the bucket when compared to car accident claims, but it’s a serious chunk of change – and insurers if nothing else hate parting with money when they don’t have to. At the same time, anyone who has experienced hearing loss due to working in a loud environment where they were not provided proper ear protection deserves to be compensated. Do you have any idea how costly a pair of hearing aids can be? You can’t just pick one up at your local Tesco, you know!

Road traffic accidents and car crashes: nobody wins

Industry news roundup: week ended 14 July 2014:

You might think that people who make successful car accident claims come out on top, but the sad truth is everyone suffers when traffic accident figures are up.

Sure, you can get a big fat personal injury compensation award if you’re injured in a RTA, but you know that money has to come from somewhere, right? Well it’s not coming from the other driver directly – it comes from insurance companies, and their coffers don’t get filled without charging their customers for insurance cover. The more accident claims an insurer loses, the more money it spends – and the more it has to raise its rates on its customers to make up the shortfall.

Now that’s just the way things work – nobody really wins. However, everyone loses no matter what – and in times where traffic accidents – and traffic accident claims – increase, it’s pain for everyone. Sadly that’s what’s going on right now – in fact new research has said that the number of dangerous accidents occurring on 20mph roads in particular have gone up by 26 per cent over the past 12 months, if data from the Institute of Advanced Motorists can be trusted. The more accidents there are, the higher a chance for injuries to occur – and we’re all going to have to suffer. So for pity’s sake don’t drive like a pillock!

Of course, sometimes insurance companies are targeted directly by accidents – often in completely unexpected ways. In fact, this week saw an ambulance plowing through a pair of steel bollards and careering through a glazed shopfront before coming to rest in the office of an insurance company’s chief executive! Somehow everyone escaped harm, including the driver of the ambulance (who lost control in the wake of a collision) and every single insurance company employee that was there that day. Surely a stroke of dumb luck that there was no one hurt or killed. Still, I’m rather sure that the insurer’s costs to repair their shopfront are going to have a heavy impact on their bottom line – and that means their customers are going to feel the pain too. It’s a vicious cycle, and it drives me mad to think there’s no way out.

Seriously injured awarded compensation for car accidents

Industry news roundup: week ended 7 July 2014:

Road traffic accident claims can be some of the most expensive for insurers – as demonstrated by two massive compensation awards in the news this week.

When it comes to the types of injuries you can sustain in car accidents, it’s hard to find more serious and life-changing ones. In fact the only other place I can think that such massively debilitating injuries can occur would be in the construction or manufacturing industries, having seen some truly impressive work accident claims myself; not to denigrate or diminish the pain and suffering of someone caught in such an accident at work, but it does seem more tragic when it involves a moving vehicle for some reason. Perhaps because they’re much more high-profile, especially in cases where drivers or passengers are left wheelchair bound.

That’s exactly what happened to 21 year old Joe Heaton, who was the passenger in a vehicle when it smashed into a tree on the A30 near Bradford Abbas three years ago. The injured man, whose spine suffered enough damage to remove his ability to walk, was just rewarded what the courts are calling a ‘substantial’ personal injury compensation package. Part of the terms of the agreement mean the exact sum will not be publicised, but considering how he will be receiving index-linked payments for the rest of his life in addition to a weighty lump sum the total value is surely in the millions.

The poor man luckily suffered no cranial damage, meaning his ability to think and reason – as well as communicate effectively – is thankfully intact. However, other people injured in car wrecks are not so lucky; in fact, another man who was a passenger in a vehicle that flipped on its roof during a crash might be £2.3 million richer, but his cognitive ability is sadly lessened as a result of the injury. It’s tragic and unfair – even more so when the injuries occur to passengers and not drivers, as there’s no one to point the finger and say that they were partly responsible for the accident – and it’s even more telling when brain injury is involved. A sad day for these poor blokes; no amount of cash, however much, will restore their bodies and minds.

Injured woman snubbed whilst drug dealer gets compensation

Industry news roundup: week ended 30 June  2014:

Well here’s one you won’t believe: this week, it came to light that whilst an injured pensioner was denied compensation, a drug dealer was awarded damages.

In a world that has apparently gone completely barmy, pensioner Trixie Offord fell, tripping over a pothole, and suffered facial injuries and a broken wrist yet received not a single penny in personal injury compensation because Bucks County Council’s last inspection of the pothole decided it was ‘not dangerous.’  The injury occurred two weeks after that inspection, but the council won’t take into account that the pothole might have worsened over that period of time. Talk about a complete set of bastards, eh?

Meanwhile, a drug dealer has just been cleared to make a car accident claim after his road traffic accident left him with life-changing injuries. Bedworth, Warwickshire native Sean Delaney had to be cut from the wreck of the Mercedes 500SL that had been driven by a friend of his. That’s right, this fine upstanding citizen was found with something like 240 grams of cannabis stuffed in his jacket pocket, yet he was never criminally prosecuted. Most likely because he was in a coma for nearly a month after the incident only to wake up with bleeding no the brain, a punctured lung, and broken bones in his pelvis, arm and both legs.

Now normally I wouldn’t be so upset by the fact that this man is making an accident claim for hundreds of thousands, but he’s a bloody drug dealer. Does he really deserve the help? And especially when you’ve got a poor old pensioner not getting a bloody cent for tripping over a damned pothole and breaking her wrist? What’s wrong with the world? If there was any justice the fates of these two people would be reversed – Delaney would be laid up with horrid injuries with no hope of compensation, and Mrs Offord would have a nice big cheque to deposit.

Insurers up in arms over car accident claim figures

Industry news roundup: week ended 28 Apr 2014:

The British insurance industry has had it with the state of the car accident claims sector amidst complaints that crash for cash schemes are running rampant.

If there’s anything the insurance industry hates – especially the car insurance industry – it’s paying out on accident claims. The occasional road traffic accident happens of course, and it’s part of doing business, but some insurers are apparently convinced that there’s a major fraud problem when it comes to things like whiplash claims and other crash for cash scams.

Well, this week new data was released by major insurer Aviva saying that it has evidence that there was almost 20 per cent more fraud last year than there was the year before. Aviva blamed packs of roving gangs perpetrating the crime and also complained that there just wasn’t enough to deter criminals from engaging in the behaviour.

Now whether or not this is accurate is really anyone’s guess. I mean an insurer will do pretty much anything and everything to reduce the amount of money they pay out on an annual basis to policyholders, so people making road traffic accident claims are obviously going to be scrutinised. A large problem is indeed that there’s no real deterrents in place, but this may be changing soon as well thanks to another news story I read this week concerning how one insurer is actually offering 10 per cent off the cost of annual cover if they fit a dashboard camera to their car to capture the details of any accidents they happen to be involved in.

Part of me thinks this is a good idea in that a motorist can prove though dashboard camera footage that they really weren’t responsible for an accident that they were involved in. At the same time, do we really need more cameras watching our every move? The number of CCTV cameras in the UK alone is massive and I would really like to have a bit of privacy once and while. That 10 per cent discount seems paltry in comparison, especially if it’s the price of giving up our freedom. Besides what’s to stop insurers from keeping an eye on us at all times and not just during accidents? I don’t need them raising my insurance premium because they catch me occasionally exceeding the speed limit or braking too hard. Nosy bastards!

It’s no fun at all being the victim of a serious injury, now is it?

Industry news roundup: week ended 10 June 2013:

Much has been said about the massive personal injury compensation payouts that accident victims can get, but the pain of injury isn’t exactly fun, you know.

In fact, there were two major news stories this week recounting how people have been privy to massive damages awards thanks to their hard-working personal injury solicitors. Both payouts were well over £1 million, but it’s not like these claimants are going to be sitting back and living the good life now – they have serious medical conditions that need looking after; this cash goes towards such care, not an all-expenses holiday somewhere sunny and warm.

Think about it: do you think it was fun for poor Rebecca Coles to collide with a boat as she was being towed in an inflatable ring in Suffolk on the River Orwell? The 19 year old was injured so badly that a piece of her skull had to be removed in order to help her recover – and that recovery includes permanent mobility impairment as well as reduced hearing and vision thanks to her brain injuries – so don’t think that the £1.37 million being paid to her is going to be living the high life any time soon.

Likewise the claimant in a personal injury compensation claim that just won some £10 million in damages isn’t going to be rubbing elbows with Richard Branson anytime soon. James Kennedy, a recruitment consultant living and working in Rome at the time of the incident, won the compensation award after the details of a catastrophic accident left him with massive brain injuries; the 37 year old man was struck by a vehicle driven by a Catholic priest of all people, who then fled the scene temporarily before a very angry crowd chased after him and bloodied his face; say what you want about Italians but they don’t let behaviour like that stand, especially from a priest!

Meanwhile, poor Mr Kennedy isn’t going back to Rome any time soon, considering how the accident left him with absolutely crippling injuries. In fact, he was in a coma for ten long months following the incident, only to awake with the kinds of life-changing injuries that require medical care for the rest of his life – something that absolutely contributed to the massive payout on his car accident claim.

For the priest’s part, I heard he was sentenced to a month in prison and slapped with a hefty fine. Good, I say – no man of God would flee the scene of a horrific accident, much less one that actually caused it in the first place!

Damages awards set to increase next year by 10 per cent

Judges say that personal injury compensation awards will be increasing by 10 per cent from 2013 in part of an effort to make it less expensive for defendants to lose personal injury claims.

At first blush this seems mad – why raise the damages awards for claimants as a way to reduce costs to insurers or institutions like the NHS? Well, it’s just one side of the coin; the other side will be an end to the custom of having losing defendants paying the ‘success fees’ and legal costs for the winning side’s personal injury solicitors.

Thanks to the new Legal Aid Act that was signed into law this year, this practice comes to an end on 1 April of next year. Now winning claimants will pay their own lawyers’ legal fees out of their compensation awards, which is why the damages awards are being increased by 10 per cent in order to keep up with the change.

The practice could lead to millions being saved in the car insurance industry, as successful car accident claims can generate massive legal costs in addition to any compensation payment directly awarded to a claimant. Medical negligence cases are likely to become less expensive overall as well, as the NHS was in the same rapidly-sinking boat that insurers were prior to the law.

The new change will also lead to fewer spurious claims being brought in the UK, as claimants now no longer claim the entirety of their award on a successful claim and lawyers will not be able to charge exorbitant legal costs – success fees are also capped at 25 per cent of the usual costs, unlike the current 100 per cent fees charged to losing defendants now.

RTA rates go down in 2011, yet injury claims increase

While the number of road traffic accidents declined again last year, the number of personal injury claims involving RTAs has gone up, according to insurance industry analysts.

Research says that Brits drove less last year in in an effort to reduce the amount of cash they had to spend on petrol, with the knock-on effect being that there were 11 per cent fewer injurious car accidents in 2011. However, the number of car accident claims related to road accidents did not follow this trend but actually increased by 18 per cent, indicating that a growing number of those involved in RTAs are looking for personal injury compensation – with whiplash claims being one of the most common.

If these trends continue over the course of 2012 and beyond, the results could be disastrous for not just the insurance industry but the motoring public, as a projected cost increase of £400 million annually for insurers would mean even more premium price increases for motorists as insurers seek to recover their increased costs from their policyholders.  However, there is currently legislation being considered by the government that could lead to a cap being placed on the amount law firms and claims management companies can be paid for representing personal injury clients by banning ‘success fees’ from being paid by the losing side and instead requiring law firms to take their payment from the compensation payouts of their clients.

Such a plan could curb rampant ‘ambulance chasing’ behaviour that many have accused the personal injury law community of engaging in, experts say, which drives up claims volume to the point of bringing spurious or even fraudulent injury claims.

AA not raising rates after accidents with the uninsured

Your rates are safe, even if you end up in a costly traffic collision with an uninsured driver that necessitates you having to make a car accident claim, one insurer recently announced to its customers.

It simply won’t matter how much it will cost to repair your car, or even how much personal injury compensation you claim, AA Insurance said, as the insurance provider has committed to not penalising you by taking away your no-claims discount or any other bonuses if the other driver is uninsured.  The number of uninsured motorists in the UK is approaching epidemic levels, experts say, with 1 out of every 25 UK drivers getting behind the wheel without any insurance, which is much higher than in other European countries such as Germany or Sweden, where the ratio is a much higher 1 out of 500 or 1 out of 1000 respectively.

Simon Douglas, the director of AA Insurance, commented on the provider’s decision to come down on the side of its customers, remarking that it is simply not fair to penalise innocent drivers that become embroiled in accidents through no fault of their own.  Innocent motorists shouldn’t be penalised by losing their no-claim discount, as this could be much more financially crippling than any penalty the uninsured driver could possibly face, added Mr Douglas.

This could spell relief to many of the nation’s motorists who have had to suffer under massive premium price increases, which have been triggered by a burgeoning number of personal injury claims made by people involved in road traffic accidents.  Insurers say they are inundated by claims volumes, with the number of such claims increasing by around 70 per cent over the past few years.