At The Compensation Experts, we have a great deal of experience handling personal injury compensation cases. For example, we are committed to helping people who have been involved in road traffic accidents as motor accidents can cause tremendous amounts of damage, both physically and financially.
The scale of false personal injury claims
However, there are unfortunately a small number of people who try to make fundamentally dishonest personal injury claims each year. For example, the UK’s largest insurer, Aviva, announced last year that they detected over £53 million-worth of proven or suspected fraudulent motor insurance claims in 2018.
Similarly, the cost of fraudulent general insurance claims is also substantial. Worryingly, the scale of the issue is also growing – in the same report, Aviva, announced that the value of fraudulent liability claims, such as bogus slip-and-trip accidents, grew by 20% to £14 million in 2018 when compared to the insurer’s figures for 2017.
The attitude of consumers to making false claims is also a cause for concern. For example, last year, we commissioned a report into consumer attitudes towards the legal sector from the independent research agency Sapio. As part of this, Sapio found that 41% of respondents would be likely to make a false claim for financial gain if they thought they could get away with it. In addition, the ABI, the UK insurance industry’s trade body, reported in 2018 as part of a wider report into insurance fraud across all sectors that both the number and value of fraudulent detected motor insurance claims was rising year-on-year.
The effect of false claims
Such false claims have a number of knock-on effects too. For example, The Daily Telegraph recently reported the cost of car insurance rose by £90 a year due to false whiplash claims costing insurers £2 billion annually. This was part of a story reporting that car insurance premiums may rise due to an increase in people making fraudulent tinnitus claims, which The Telegraph describes as “the new whiplash”.
Furthermore, false claims also hurt those making genuine personal injury compensation claims. This is because it arguably leads to a greater distrust by insurers of the claims they are receiving. This then means it can take longer for those with genuine claims to gain compensation for the injuries they have suffered. In particular, bodies such as the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) and the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED), the specialist police fraud unit investigating insurance fraud, are currently investigating a rising number of suspected fraud cases. While we certainly support attempts to curb fraudulent claims, as these can reflect badly on our profession, if this can be shown to be adversely affecting genuine claimants, we have to ask if the correct balance has been struck.
Finally, false claims are also affecting our profession and the wider legal services sector. According to the Ipsos MORI Veracity Index that charts the public’s trust in various professions, only 54% of the UK population trusts what lawyers say, with the legal profession ranking 13th for trust of the 24 professions Ipsos MORI charts. If the public at large trusts the legal profession less, it may result if those who have genuine personal injury claims being hesitant to seek legal advice prior to making a claim. In turn, this decreases their chances of successfully claiming the level of compensation they should receive.
The consequences of making a false claim
It should also be remembered that, while the possibility of making some extra money can be very alluring, the consequences if you are found to have tried to make a fraudulent personal injury claim can be very significant.
For example, that ABI report mentioned earlier includes a summary of what happened to some of those found to have made fundamentally dishonest insurance claims. Of note, a cyclist who claimed £135,000 in a fraudulent public liability claim after saying he had been injured after hitting a pothole when he had actually fallen off his bicycle on a different road received a three and a half year jail sentence. Meanwhile, another report from the ABI last year highlighted the case of a hotelier who received a 14-month suspended prison sentence after falsely claiming £34,000 in Disability Living Allowance payments.
Criminal convictions can also result in you losing your job. This is particularly true if you work in certain sectors, such as the financial services industry, where trust is paramount, or the social care sector, where you can come into regular contact with vulnerable people.
Furthermore, a criminal record is an indicator of potential instability and uncertainty for insurance companies, which hate uncertainty. Therefore, if you have a criminal record, it may also mean that the cost of your personal insurance policies climbs significantly, potentially making it prohibitively expensive for you to take out insurance policies covering your home, your possessions and your vehicle.
Alternatively, if you have previously been convicted of insurance fraud, insurance companies may blacklist you completely and refuse to cover you. When considering vehicle insurance, it is illegal to drive on British roads without at least third-party cover, and so, you would no longer be able to drive in this country. Similarly, if you are unable to buy contents insurance, you would not be covered if your home were to be burgled. Also, if you can’t buy travel insurance, you wouldn’t be able to travel outside of the EU without the risk of significant medical costs if you are taken ill while abroad. Depending upon the terms on which Britain leaves the EU, you also may not be able to travel within the EU without the risk of incurring significant medical bills if something were to happen to you as well.
Finally, if you are found guilty of making a fraudulent claim, you could also incur the cost of the action being taken against you. Not only would you be required to hand back the compensation you received in full and pay for your own legal representation, but you also have to cover the other side’s legal costs too, as well as incurring other costs such as a court-imposed victim surcharge.
It really does not pay to try to make a fraudulent claim, particularly as the IFB and IFED are getting better and better at detecting, investigating and successfully prosecuting suspected cases of fraud.
If you have a genuine claim though, please do not let the above stop you from seeking the compensation you are entitled to. At The Compensation Experts, we work with specialist legal firms who have a proven track record in making successful personal injury compensation claims. We and the legal firms we work with have a lot of experience in these cases and so, are well-placed to help you get the maximum amount of compensation you are entitled to. After your initial consultation with our advisors, which is done on a free no-obligation basis, we will match you with the firm who best suits the circumstances of your case.
If you have sustained any type of injury, while in work, while driving or while out in public, and want to know if you are entitled to compensation, do not hesitate to contact The Compensation Experts via the contact form on our website or by calling 0161 413 8765.