Law Society hits back at insurance industry

At long last the Law Society is fighting back against the misinformation being peddled by the insurance industry.

The Law Society has stated that claims the country is in the grip of a ‘compensation culture’ are a myth.  

The Society is responding to a report from the ABI (Association of British Insurers) that said Britain has a ‘have a go’ compensation culture. Law Society chief executive Desmond Hudson said today’s report by the ABI pumps up the myth about a so-called ‘compensation culture’ and is entirely self serving to the insurance industry:

‘The claim that there are ‘ambulance chasing lawyers’ manipulating the system is utterly unpersuasive. If this is happening why are the insurers not acting and challenging these cases in the Courts? It is nonsense and the ABI should know better.’  

Lawyers exist to ensure that people get their just compensation and are not manipulated by the insurance industry. Does anyone seriously believe that insurers would pay out claims unnecessarily?’

‘The law in this country sees to it that those who are harmed by the negligence of others are entitled to fair compensation. They are not entitled to make a profit from their loss. This is just and it is fair. It is how reasonable insurers seek to settle claims.’

‘Our concern is that these proposals will mean that many people who suffer loss and damage will not be able to get compensation and the insurance industry will not have to pay anything out. You can see why the insurance industry might support such proposals.’

‘The losers will be those victims of poor care in hospitals or negligent employers who need and deserve compensation for often serious and debilitating injuries. This is far from a ‘have a go’ culture.’

‘Only a year ago Lord Young in his report to the Prime Minister on these issues found that there was no such thing as a compensation culture. He found instead that there was a perception of such a culture – often fuelled by misreporting and assertion.’

‘Given that the report is so recent, it is bizarre that the ABI should fuel this misreporting – and spread obfuscation and confusion – on serious issues of public debate.’  

‘It is good to see that the ABI recognises that referral fees should be abolished – a position held by the Law Society- but the fact is that the insurance industry itself has been taking such fees by selling these cases to the highest bidder and has been profiting from accidents as a result.’

‘It is also wrong to suggest that people do not need lawyers. Without an independent lawyer representing them, victims are at the mercy of insurers who have every incentive to pay as little as possible, irrespective of the real needs and rights of the victim. Again, it is easy to see why it is in the interests of the insurance industry to offer settlement to claimants before they have legal advice and to seek to get rid of lawyers who help people get their rights.’ 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Insurance industry blames personal injury victims for rise in car premiums – again

In the fight to dispel the myth of the compensation culture, we need to respond to the latest piece of insurance industry propaganda which received a ‘fullsome and fawning’ full-page leader in today’s Scottish Daily Mail by Ray Massey, the paper’s transport editor.

Lest we fall victim to the insurance industry’s marketing machine, we need to remember that insurance is a business, that the insurance industry can set any price it likes for its products and that we, the public, have to bear the brunt. Let’s be absolutely clear on this – the insurance companies set the prices…and they decide who to blame for the increase.

Why is it that rising premiums are never, ever the result of a decision to increase profitabilty and maximise shareholder value?….They are always BLAMED on something and / or someone else.

Now, read on…please.

Mr. Massey, quotes extensively from an AA (insurance) report:

‘The £1,000-a-year bill for car insurance is round the corner as booming fraud and ‘abhorrent ambulance chasers’ drive up costs.’

Not content with scaremongering on the cost of car insurance, the AA report and the Mail attempt to tar the legal profession as ‘abhorrent ambulance chasers’. Bonnar & Company does not chase ambulances – we and other reputable law firms fight for an accident victim’s right to sue those responsible for their injuries – a principle which is enshrined in law, incidentally.

Accident victims know that compensation is not delivered to them on a plate, as anyone who has ever tried to make any kind of insurance claim will readily appreciate. People have to fight for their rights and without solicitors like us claimants would be at the mercy of the insurance companies who would simply decide what level of compensation, if any, to offer. Is this fair? Is this justice? We don’t think so. 

If the insurance companies had things their way villagers with pitchforks and flaming torches would even now be forming angry mobs to hunt down and exterminate claimant lawyers. Fortunately for the rest of us who pay premiums and actually expect protection, the insurance companies don’t have things all their own way YET – and this is precisely the reason they pump out one-sided half truths like this feature on a regular basis. They are absolutely desperate to stigmatise accident victims and their legal representatives. 

(Just check the archives of the Daily Mail and many other papers to get a flavour of how the insurance industry operates and what they would have us all believe about personal injury solicitors)  

THE REAL HEADLINE IS:      

Insurance companies don’t like paying out on insurance claims!!!

They positively hate personal injury lawyers and that goes double for firms like Bonnar & Company – we are pleased to say. Well who can blame them when we keep giving them a bloody nose – figuratively speaking of course. Well we don’t care and neither do our clients.   

The article continues:

‘The AA says driving up the cost of cover is increasing fraud – including staged ‘cash for crash’ accidents – and more personal injury claims fuelled by ambulance-chasing lawyers and controversial ‘no win, no fee’ claims firms.

Adding to the costs is the ‘black market’ trade in details of potentially valuable accident ‘victims’ which are bought and sold across the insurance industry for tip-off fees of up to £1,000 – a practice condemned by Transport Minister Mike Penning as ‘abhorrent ambulance chasing’ – that phrase again.

A report by the House of Commons transport select committee last month criticised the cash-for-contacts culture that means within hours of an accident, motorists’ personal details are being sold and resold for under-the-counter referral ‘fees’ – to lawyers, medical experts and accident management companies.

Let’s pause for a minute here. Who, exactly is trading details of car crash victims?

The motorists themselves perhaps?

No. How could they and why would they? All they want is their car back on the road fast.

The police?

 Hardly.

The lawyers? 

No. They don’t have details of an accident until someone contacts them…unless they have spy cameras set up at every road junction in the land.

Which leaves…THE INSURANCE COMPANIES!

Think about it. Who is first to get the full details of a road traffic accident?

The report then makes much of the ‘fact’ that ‘Motorists are then bombarded with hard-sell calls from ‘no win, no fee’ firms offering to act on their behalf.’

What about the hard sell calls from insurance companies offering to settle a claim before the victim has had a chance to undergo a proper medical examination? We have seen many cases where clients have been approached directly by the other motorist’s insurance company seeking to settle quickly with a seemingly enticing offer. 

However, the problem here is that if the accident victim accepts the insurance company’s initial and inevitably low offer, that’s it. Even if medical complications arise further down the line the injured person cannot make any further claim. 

The report continues:

‘The AA said despite the number of collisions on UK roads falling, the number of claims for whiplash injuries continued to rise, with more than 200 claims a day, often for accidents from up to three years ago with injuries mentioned for the first time.

The Association of Chief Police officers said there were 30,000 staged accidents in 2009 committed by ‘sophisticated fraud rings’.

Perhaps we should ask the AA to define ‘often’.

Did the police prosecute any, some or all of these 30,000 fraud cases in 2009? 

Undetected fraud topped £930million a year and added an estimated £39 to the average policy.

Eh? Or as we say in Scotland – whit? How on earth does the AA know the value of ‘undetected fraud’

The Scotish Daily Mail article continues:

”The Association of British Insurers warned that motor premiums would continue to soar unless action was taken to curb the cost of personal injury claims. Well they would, wouldn’t they?

Nick Starling, the ABI’s director of general insurance and health, said: ‘The Government’s recently announced plans to reform civil litigation will go a long way to cutting out unnecessary and disproportionate legal costs and should lead to cheaper motor insurance in the future.’

What he conveniently omitted to say was that Lord Young’s Review – ‘Common Sense Common Safety’ stated clearly that there is no compensation culture.

On page 19 of his report, Lord Young wrote:

‘The problem of the compensation culture prevalent in today’s society is, however, one of perception rather than reality.’

Mr. Starling however ploughs on regardless and is quoted as saying:

‘What we now need is a ban on referral fees – where details of potential personal injury claimants are sold on to solicitors and claims management firms.’

What next Mr. Starling? Would a ban on claims be to your liking?

Perhaps Mr. Starling can tell us who is selling details of potential personal injury claimants to claims management companies in the first place?

 

We will no doubt be dragged kicking and screaming back to this subject, but for now we would just like to make four points in conclusion, by way of redressing the balance and injecting some degree of reality and proportion into the debate.

 

1.

The AA report which was quoted extensively in the Scottish Daily Mail article states that ‘despite the number of collisions on UK roads falling, the number of claims for whiplash injuries continued to rise’, which would lead the reader to conclude that car accident claim fraud is rife.However, the Department of Transport’s official ‘Report on Road Casualities in Great Britain – 2008’ makes the point that the number of road traffic accidents reported to the police is only part of the story.

Whereas approximately 234,000 road traffic accidents were recorded in the official police statistics in 2008, the Department of Transport estimates the total number of road traffic accidents to be in the order of 800,000. The full report can be studied on the Department’s website. 

See section 5 of the report for a comparison of police statistics and other sources, which suggests that the vast majority of road traffic accidents do not result in compensation claims…a finding which is in line with a study of accident claims across the board, undertaken by the CAB, which found that over 65% of accident victims never make a claim.

 

2.

Successful claims for accident compensation rely on something called EVIDENCE.

If there is no evidence and in particular, no medical evidence then there is no claim, period. If there is evidence then there COULD BE a claim, but much detailed work still has to de done by the claimant’s solicitor to determine the strength of the evidence and therefore the strength of the case. If the accident victim is partly to blame then the courts will take contributory negligence into account and assess the award of any damages accordingly.

There is no automatic right to compensation and the insurance companies know this, otherwise why would they bother fighting claims? If compensation was a right and all victims had to do was present a ‘claim ticket’ at a High Street cash point there would hardly be any need for lawyers on either side – the ‘right’ is the right to seek compensation, not get it.  

 

3.

Which brings us neatly on to the role of the insurance company lawyers. Insurance companies pay top dollar to big law firms to defend their clients against accident victims’ claims. This is of course a cost which they of course BLAME on the victim, naturally. The insurance company legal team exist to repudiate and minimise the value of compensation claims and if the claimant hasn’t accepted the insurance company’s ‘low ball ‘ initial offer, they will fight tooth and nail over a long period to drag things out and undermine genuine claimants with the aim of making the claim ‘go away.’

This is of course why firms like Bonnar & Compnay exist. Our job is to help accident victims achieve justice and financial compensation. Incidentally, we carry all the up front costs of litigation so that injured people are never out of pocket and have access to the best possible legal representation at no cost to them, no matter how long it takes to force an insurance company to make a fair offer on a genuine claim.   

NB

Bonnar & Company only ever works on behalf of genuine claimants. The very, very small number of potentially doubtful claims that we come across never, ever see the light of day. It is perhaps worth stating that the major headline grabbing spurious claims for mega compensation resulting from apparently trivial injuries inevitably and almost universally always get kicked out by the courts, if they ever get that far that is. However, don’t expect to read in the papers about the downright ‘daft’ or fraudulent claims that fail – they don’t make good copy.     

 

4.

 Why are insurance companies paying out on fraudulent car accident claims?

ARE THEY REALLY PAYING OUT ON FRAUDULENT CAR ACCIDENT CLAIMS, OR ARE THEY JUST SAYING THAT THEY ARE TO MAKE A POINT?

They can’t have it both ways.

Either they are paying out on fraudulent claims which would be an absolute scandal or they aren’t which means there is no problem with fraudulent claims.

Mmmm. Answer on one side of the paper only please Mr. Starling…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Insurer resists the urge to blame personal injury claims for rising premiums

Admiral Insurance said today that it had not seen “any unusual trends in bodily injury or damage claims” and reported a 21% rise in pre-tax profit to £126.9m for the first six months of 2010.

Admiral’s chief operating officer David Stevens blamed an “annus horribilis” in the car industry business for a 14% rise in premiums in just six months. He said that costs will continue to go up as the firm responds to changing market pricing, commenting that:

“For the first time in a number of years in 2009, the number of claims actually went up slightly. That was partly due to the bad weather in the winter of last year.”

Firms such as RBS Insurance have recently reported motor insurance losses at the end of 2009 and typically blamed a strong rise in the number and severity of personal injury claims. So let’s not hold our breath in the expectation that more insurers will avoid stigmatising genuine road traffic accident claimants and blaming innocent car injury victims for rising motor insurance premiums. 

Of course, what the insurance companies fail to mention is that bogus injury claims are weeded out early on and never get settled. Unless insurers are  actually paying out on fraudulent claims and therefore sustaining AVOIDABLE LOSSES, there should not be any problem in dealing with those few individuals who are determined to fabricate an accident or an injury.

At Bonnar & Company we receive very few enquiries from people seeking to defraud the system but we take immediate and robust action to immediately kick these claims out. A personal injury solicitor has to build a case for compensation based on the evidence. If the evidence falls short, the claim falls flat on its face – end of story. 

You should also be aware of one of the insurance industry’s favourite ploys, which is to group the dubious claims with genuine accident victims in order to perpetuate the myth of a compensation culture when their real motive is to boost profits by discouraging claimants and making the process as difficult and as stressful as possible.

If you or a member of your family need to discuss a road traffic injury claim with a personal injury expert, please call us FREE on 0800 163 978 for a no obligation case review and independent legal advice.

Insurance industry victimises personal injury claimants in new report

When will the insurance industry stop blaming personal injury solicitors for rising premiums?

Today’s report by the Association of British Insurers claims that the rise of a litigation or “ambulance-chasing” legal culture in Britain is playing its part in the rise of artificial claims.

The ABI’s own figures show that in 2009 a grand total of 4% of ALL claims were fraudulent and that the most common frauds were bogus or exaggerated claims on claims on household policies.

A key point worth stressing and always overlooked by the industry is that, by definition, fraudulent claims do not succeed. Or perhaps I am missing the point. Is the insurance industry really saying that it is paying out on claims known to be fraudulent?

As all reasonable people will understand, personal injury solicitors actually play an important part in identifying and weeding out bogus claims. As a firm Bonnar & Company actually receives very, very few enquiries relating to what might be called ‘dodgy’ claims. The small number of dubious claims that do come our way are quickly rooted out and the claimants are sent packing, pronto.

The fact remains that a claimant for personal injury compensation has to prove that their accident was the result of someone else’s negligence.  As accident and personal injury compensation claim solicitors, our number one job is to evaluate personal injury cases and gather the evidence necessary to support our client’s claim. It is inconceivable that we would spend a second longer than is necessary on a bogus claim when we are busy working on behalf of genuine accident and injury victims and their families.

If you have ever tried claiming on your own household policy for genuine accidental damage just imagine for a moment how difficult it can be to claim AGAINST the insurer of another member of the public or a company for pain, suffering and loss sustained as a result of an accident or industrial illness.   

So, I ask the question once more…

Where are all the successful bogus personal injury compensation claims and where are the lawyers that are making them?

If you or a member of your family would like to discuss your genuine claim for compensation with a qualified, regulated and experienced personal injury solicitor, then please call us FREE on 0800 163 978 for no obligation EXPERT legal advice.