The House of Commons Transport Committee last week published a report into the increasing cost of motor insurance premiums. The Committee concluded that the rise in personal injury claims was the main reason for the rise in premiums.
The Committee outlined several areas of concern in this respect; the first being the way vicitms of Road Traffic Accidents are contacted and urged to make claims for compensation. The Committee is asking the insurance industry to abandon sharp practices such as cold calling and selling drivers' personal data to other parties.
Another area of concern was their scepticism over the veracity of many whiplash claims. The Committee pointed out that whiplash injuries are often subjective, from a medical prospective they can be difficult to prove conclusively.
The Committee's final concern was the payment of referral fees to Claims Management Companies and Insurance Companies by Solicitors, garages and car hire firms for personal injury cases.
The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) has responded to the report and agreed that an investigation into cold calling and insurance companies selling on personal data is long overdue. They point out that Solicitors' rules are extremely strict in forbidding soliciting claims in this way. In our experience we are often contacted by clients who are confused by cold calls and unsolicited texts, some of which advise them they could be due various sums of money because of an accident they have been involved in. Our clients become worried and confused thinking these calls and texts are in connection with the personal injury claim we are pursuing on their behalf. We agree that such pressurised "selling" can encourage fraudulent or exaggerated claims which will increase motor insurance premiums. As personal injury lawyers we would be more than happy to see these abolished.
In response to the Committee's doubts over whiplash injuries, APIL commented that "....priority must be for innocent vicitms of genuine injury, including whiplash injuries, to have access to the full and fair compensation they need. Whiplash injuries can be extremely painful and can often linger, leaving some people with chronic conditions." We agree with APIL's comments, many of our client's require time off work, physiotherpay treatment and are often left with ongoing symtpoms following a whiplash injury. The typical process with any injury claim is for us to obtain a medico-legal report from a medical expert reporting on the Claimant's injuries. The medical expert has the opportunity to question the Claimant, review the Claimant's medical records and look out for inappropriate signs when examining the Claimant. The medical expert will be paid for his report whatever his conclusion, his duty is to the Court and not to either party. If the medical expert suspects the Claimant is faking or exaggerating an injury he will state this in his report.
In 2010 the Government introduced a new way of dealing with low value Road Traffic Accident claims in a bid to speed up the process and avoid expensive wrangling over costs. The new system discourages Solicitors from routinely obtaining copies of the Claimant's medical records to be considered by the medical expert. This reduces the body of evidence available to prove the injury which may result in unsubstantiated claims being compensated. The House of Commons Transport Committee has askjed the Government to review this process.
Turning to the Committee's concerns over referral fees it is prevelent within the insurance industry for insurers, having been informed by their insured of a no-fault Road Traffic Accident, for them to then sell their details to a Solicitor on their panel to conduct a compensation claim for them. Claimant's are often encouraged in this way to claim compensation when they otherwise would not have thought of doing so for injuries that may not be all that severe or exist at all. As a firm of personal injury Solicitors we are contend for referral fees to be abolished across the board. We would prefer Claimants to contact their local Solicitor direct to ensure they receive an uncomplicated professional service and have the freedom to instruct a Solicitor of their choice.
To conclude, in our opinion the answer to the increasing cost of motor insurance does largely lie in the insurance companies own hands.
Martinkaye Injury LLP can be contacted on 01952 426134 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 01952 426134 end_of_the_skype_highlighting to discuss any questions or queries you may have.
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