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…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Bananas’ Bus Slips Up In Bridge Crash

A passenger had a lucky escape when a bus hit a low bridge and had its roof sliced off in Edinburgh yesterday afternoon.

The double decker crashed into a rail bridge near Murrayfield Stadium and fortunately the man on the top deck suffered only minor injuries after being thrown into the stairwell by the impact.

Thankfully, the driver and three other passengers on the Go Bananas bus – which is hired out for stag and hen parties – also escaped unhurt.

This incident serves as a prime example of the need for the proper risk assessment of business activities involving members of the public and highlights the dangers of the wholesale watering down of safety standards recommended by Lord Young in his recent ‘Common Sense Common Safety’ report to the government. In his report Lord Young proposed to remove the burden on business by removing the statutory requirement for formal risk assessment across a wide range of commercial and not for profit enterprises because he believed the they were not inherently dangerous and that a proportionate response to health and safety risk was needed.

If a group of guys or girls had been upstairs on this bus at the time of the crash there would have been multiple fatalities and the tabloid press, quick to demonise accident victim compensation claims, would have been clamouring for evidence of route planning, driver training and of course, risk assessment…

Let’s hope the lesson has been learned by all concerned with this incident and that other private and public operated bus operators in Scotland take note that the health and safety of their passengers has to be their prime responsibility. Health and safey legislation is not a burden on enterprise it is a positive engine of business value, not least because the costs to the insurance industry are reduced if we all take care on the roads and elsewhere. At least on this ocassion we are not looking at wrongful death claims in addition to bus and bridge repair costs.

If you have been hurt or injured in an acident on public transport in Scotland within the last three years, please contact us for a FREE no obligation legal review of your case on 0800 163 978.

Scottish police warn plan to cut speed cameras will risk lives

Scotland’s top police officers have said they would be concerned if funding for speed cameras became a victim of government budget cuts.

The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos) spoke out toady after its sister organisation claimed lives would be put at risk as a result of UK Government spending cuts to the network south of the border.

Mick Giannasi, who leads on road policing for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), which represents officers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, said he was trying to persuade Conservative and Liberal Democrat ministers to protect the cameras “for the future of our road safety”.

Last month it emerged that Oxfordshire County Council was switching off all 72 of its fixed speed cameras as part of moves to save money, with other local authorities south of the border are also considering similar action. The UK Government cut £38million from this year’s road safety budget and ended central funding for speed cameras.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of road-safety charity Brake echoed the calls. She said: “We agree with Mick Giannasi that if we do see speed cameras removed on a large scale, which seems likely to happen, it’s going to be a devastating blow to road safety. We know that cameras are very effective in cutting speeding which is vital for protecting all road users.”

Having seen the devasting results of reckless driving, Bonnar & Company echoes the views of road safety expertsspeed kills.

If you or a member of your family have been involved in a road traffic accident caused by a speeding driver please contact our personal injury specialists for FREE expert legal advice and practical assistance. For a no obligation review of your claim please call freephone 0800 163 978. 

Road safety charity hits out at savage budget cut backs

In the budget today, it was announced that transport funding is likely to be cut by more than 25% by 2014, causing concern for the future of life-saving road safety measures.

Brake, the Road Safety charity, believes that these measures will contribute to a rise in casualties and consequential costs to the emergency services, making such cut backs a false economy.

There is to be an immediate cut to the road safety budget for the current year (2010/11) by a catastrophic 40%, made up of a 27% cut to the revenue grant of £20.6m and a £100% cut to the capital grant of £17.2m. The capital grant is used for road safety engineering measures such as pedestrian crossings and installation of fixed cameras and speed humps. The revenue grant is used for local authority-led local road safety partnerships, which carry out campaigns and education, particularly of young people, who are more likely to die on our roads than die from any other cause or illness and for costs such as maintenance of speed cameras.

Despite the cutbacks, the Department for Transport does not expect there to be a direct correlation between the savage grant reductions for road safety and local authority expenditure on road safety, saying it is for local authorities to decide where their priorities lie across all their responsibilities and they are free to swap funding from one area to another.

One road safety officer told Brake: “The major loss of funding this year, and the uncertainty of continued funding at all, may well result in the discontinuation of road safety partnerships with nothing to replace them. Road safety has been dropped and we can expect to see the death toll rise as a direct result.”

Ellen Booth, campaigns officer for Brake, said:

“Brake is outraged that road safety has been targeted so brutally – traffic is the biggest killer of young people and dangerous behaviour on roads causes thousands of horrific deaths and injuries of all ages every year in the UK. By targeting road safety, the government has shown they have no concern for the families of the future carnage we may see because of this irresponsible and short sighted cut of a vital life-saving service, and also no understanding of the enormous expense to the emergency services of road crashes and therefore the false economy of making these cuts.

The government has sent a very powerful message to local authorities that life saving work in road safety is not important at all.”

Bonnar & Company is all too familiar with the results of careless driving and poorly maintained roads and we are horrified by the government’s proposals. Most people would expect a new government to make safety on the roads a priority but it seems that we are being softened up for more swingeing cuts to health and safety expenditure across the board and that we can expect no favours from Lord Young’s forthcoming review.

If you have been hurt or injured in a road traffic accident and would like an expert legal review of your case at no charge, please contact us on FREEPHONE 0800 163 978.