Insurers ordered to clampdown on fraud claims

31 July 2013

The insurance industry must stop encouraging fraud and exaggeration in accident claims, a committee of MPs has said.

In a report on the effect of whiplash claims on the cost of car insurance, the Transport Select Committee said motor insurers must "put their house in order".

The motor insurance trade body, the Association of British Insurers (ABI), refuted the allegation that its members encouraged fraud, but it did agree that the claims process should be tightened up.

A spokesman for the ABI said: "There has been a growth in recent years in claimant lawyers and claims management companies encouraging people to submit an increasing number of frivolous or exaggerated claims. Following recent reforms to the civil litigation system, insurers committed to pass on cost savings to motorists."

The Transport Select Committee added that the government must also be stricter on motor insurance claims to help bring premiums down.

It called on the government to reduce the limitation period for road accident claims, adding that whiplash claimants must provide more evidence to support their claims.

Committee chair Louise Ellman MP said: "To help bring insurance premiums down the government must tighten up the requirements for motor insurance claims and ensure that insurers honour their commitment to reduce premiums."

According to the ABI, whiplash claims cost UK motorists over £2 billion a year, adding £90 to the average premium.

Clear timetable

Tom Jones, head of policy and public affairs at Thompsons Solicitors, called on insurers to set out a clear timetable for a reduction in motor insurance premiums. He said: "The car insurers have no excuse. They make hundreds of millions in profits and could easily pass some of this back to motorists. If they refuse to do so, there should be a windfall tax on their profits in the same way as the banks were penalised in the past."

The Transport Select Committee said the government had ignored its previous call for the links between insurers and other parties involved with claims to become more transparent. It added that it was surprised to hear that insurers will sometimes make an offer to personal injury claimants even before a medical report has been received.

But the committee also warned that claimants with genuine injuries should not be demonised. Ellman added: "Whiplash injuries can have debilitating consequences for those who suffer them. However, some of the increase in whiplash claims will have been due to fraud or exaggeration."

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