Vast majority of claims for whiplash generated by insurance companies, says claimant lobby group

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The vast majority of claims for whiplash have been generated by insurance companies during the last decade, according to Access to Justice (A2J), the claimant lawyer lobby group.

After studying data from the Claims Management Regulator, and research conducted by Aviva for its Road to Reform report in 2014, A2J has calculated that 75% of the £2.8 billon total turnover of claims management companies during the last ten years has come from referrals by insurance companies.

In A2J’s view, the statistics show that 55% of all personal injury referrals to CMCs have gone through insurers directly, equating to £1.4 billion of total CMC turnover during the last decade. Using Aviva’s report, the group has also said that a further 20% claims go through a personal injury lawyer, after the claimant has been referred to the PI lawyer by an insurer. Some insurance companies own their own law firms, so this is an important source of revenue.

Although A2J accepts some customers suffering injuries from road traffic accidents (RTAs) respond to advertising by law firms, it maintains that the vast proportion accepted by law firms come from referrals by insurers.

Aviva’s research also says that insurance brokers refer 13% of all PI claims to CMCs, but the broker (not the insurer) will take the fees as part of their own income. This equates to £325 million of the total CMC turnover.

Andrew Twambley, a spokesperson for A2J, which is campaigning against the Government’s proposed reforms to personal injury compensation, said the gorup’s research had illustrated that insurers have deliberately pushed whiplash and other non-fault personal injury claims to CMCs to generate revenue and load claims settlement costs onto their competitors.

“The data shows that it is insurers themselves who have, over the last decade, been responsible for the creation of the claims management sector and given it most of its turnover,” said Twambley.

“It is impossible to say from the data how much money insures have made from referring these cases and how much it has cost the industry to settle cases referred by their competitors. Perhaps the ABI would care to enlighten us, and also explain why they are campaigning against an industry that their own members created and nurtured.”

“Insurers have blamed personal injury lawyers and the public for fuelling a compensation culture, but this is a myth,” he added.

“The reality is that, during the last decade, the vast majority of claims for whiplash have been generated by insurance companies.”

In the Claims Management Regulator’s report used by A2J for its research, the Ministry of Justice has revealed that the turnover of PI claims for CMCs has fallen by 41% to £182 million in the last two years.

The number of CMCs authorised by the Regulator now sits at 1,388. Its tenth report also states that the number of CMCs operating in the PI market has dropped from 979 to 752 since 2015, a decrease of 23%.

 

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Marek Handzel

Marek Handzel is the editor of Claims Magazine. Marek welcomes articles, letters, or feedback from readers and can be reached by emailing marek.handzel@barkerbrooks.co.uk