At The Compensation Experts, we have a great deal of experience handling cases for various personal injury compensation amounts. For example, we help victims of road traffic accidents. As such, motor accidents can cause tremendous amounts of damage, both physically and financially. But we also have to take on the scourge of the false personal injury claim, a far too common occurrence that affects legitimate claims every day.
The scale of the false personal injury claim
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 they detected over £53 million-worth of proven/suspicious 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. Notably, in that same report, Aviva states that the value of fraudulent liability claims, such as bogus slip-and-trip accidents, grew by 20% to £14 million in 2018 in comparison to 2017 figures.
The attitude of consumers to making false claims is another major cause for concern. For example, last year, we commissioned a report into consumer attitudes towards the legal sector from the independent research agency Sapio. The study reveals 41% of respondents would 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 rose year-on-year.
The effect of the false personal injury claim
Such false claims have a number of knock-on effects too. For example, consider how false whiplash claims affect insurance prices. The Daily Telegraph recently reported the cost of car insurance rose by £90 a year due mostly to this. In turn, these actions cost 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, there are investigation bodies on these matters like:
- the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) and;
- the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED).
Specialist police fraud units investigating insurance fraud, are currently investigating a rising number of possible fraud cases. We certainly support attempts to curb fraudulent claims, as these can reflect badly on our profession. However, 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. The legal profession ranks 13th for the trust of the 24 professions Ipsos MORI charts.
In summary, fraudulence hurts true victims
So when the public at large trusts the legal profession less, the effects can be devastating for legitimate claimants.
In fact, 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 a false personal injury claim
Here’s something else you should also remember. Admittedly, the possibility of making some extra money can be very alluring. But they don’t outweigh the consequences if you are found out. That’s what makes a fraudulent personal injury claim so very damaging.
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 claiming £135,000 in a fraudulent public liability claim. After saying a pothole brought about an injury, investigations show he’d actually fallen off his bicycle on a different road. Consequently, the cyclist was given a three and a half year jail sentence.
Meanwhile, another report from the ABI last year reveals the case of a hotelier’s 14-month 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. To summarise, in so many industries, trust is paramount, and a fraud claim jeopardises your career in those industries. For instance, the social care sector, where you’re regularly in touch 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 a conviction from insurance fraud, insurance companies may blacklist you. That means you’ll be completely in the dark with insurance brands who refuse to cover you.
Consequently, these actions can affect you in a myriad of ways. When considering vehicle insurance, it is illegal to drive on British roads without at least third-party cover. Therefore, you’d no longer be able to drive in the UK. Similarly, if you can’t buy contents insurance, burglary of your home would leave you without coverage.
Also, consider what happens if you can’t buy travel insurance. It means when travel outside of the EU, you’ll risk significant medical costs if you fall ill while abroad. Mostly, this will be subject to the terms on which Britain leaves the EU. However, you also risk being unable to travel risk-free within the EU. If you do, you face the risk of incurring significant medical bills if something were to happen to you.
Finally, with a conviction for making a fraudulent claim, there’s also the cost of the action being taken against you. You’d have to:
- Return the compensation pay in full.
- Pay for your own legal representation.
- You’d also have to cover the other side’s legal costs.
- As well as incurring other costs like court-imposed victim surcharges.
In conclusion, it really doesn’t pay to try to make a false personal injury claim. Particularly as the IFB and IFED improve the detection, investigation and successful prosecution of fraud.
If you have a genuine claim though, please do not let the above stop you from seeking rightful compensation. The Compensation Experts use specialist legal firms with 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. So we’re able to help you get personal injury compensation amounts that correspond with your claim. After an initial, free and no-obligation consultation, we match you with a firm best capable of representing your case.
If you’re coping with any type of injury, work, driving or out in public, get help. Don’t hesitate to contact The Compensation Experts via the contact form on our website or by calling 0161 413 8765.
*It was a suspended sentence.