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Crash victims pressured to claim compensation within hours of an accident

Press release: 31/01/2013

  • One in twenty (6%) crash victims are contacted by a claims company within two hours of being involved in an accident
  • Claims companies are approaching victims at the roadside and in hospitals to encourage them to make a compensation claim
  • One in four (24%) claimants say they would never have claimed compensation if they hadn’t been pressured by a third party

Crash victims are being pestered by personal injury lawyers and claims management companies to make a claim for compensation just hours after being involved in a car accident.

New research from LV= car insurance reveals one in twenty (6%) crash victims are contacted by a claims management company or personal injury lawyer within just two hours of their accident, with the pressure to seek compensation often being piled on while they are receiving medical care. The number of people who have been contacted following an accident has increased by 52% since 2010 to two thirds (67%) of victims[1] - despite accident rates falling[2].

Opportunistic claims management companies are even approaching people at the scene of the accident in order to get their details straight away[3], while others are approaching patients at the hospital and setting up information desks in patient waiting rooms[4]. As a result, almost half (48%) of crash victims targeted by claims companies are contacted within just 24 hours by these organisations and pressured to claim for compensation. Many are persistently pursued in the weeks after, sometimes on a daily basis, with one victim reporting that he was contacted 340 times following his accident and hounded to make a claim[5].

The fees charged by an accident management company can be equivalent to half the accident victim’s compensation payout if the claim is successful[6]. A quarter of claimants (24%) say they wouldn’t have made a claim if it hadn’t been for pressure applied by a third party[7]. Of those who made a claim, nearly half (48%) say they were pressured to do so by a claims company or legal firm specialising in personal injury, with a further one in five (20%) reporting they were encouraged to claim compensation by a police officer.

Official police figures obtained by a freedom of information request from LV= car insurance reveals a number of Police forces share accident victims’ details in exchange for a fee. The Metropolitan Police has received more than £5 million from third parties since 2009 for the contact details of people involved in road traffic accidents. Hampshire Constabulary has received more than £480,000 since 2010 for this information while Fife Constabulary has made £194,000.

It is not against the law to pass on the contact details of accident victims to other service providers with the victims’ consent, but legislation due to be implemented in April 2013[8] will see a ban on the payment and receipt of referral fees in personal injury cases and will cap lawyers’ fees on successful claims[9]. This pending legalisation has prompted a whiplash ‘gold rush’ and claims companies are now hounding people regardless of whether they have been injured or not. In fact, almost a third (29%) of those who made a claim admitted they exaggerated their injury to get compensation and a further one in ten (10%) say they made up the injury entirely to get the money. Attempting to make a compensation claim when you do not have an injury is against the law and could lead to a hefty fine or prison sentence.

John O’Roarke, Managing Director of LV= car insurance, comments: “The heavy-handed tactics of the ‘claims farming’ industry has resulted in record levels of compensation claims for whiplash and other personal injuries – despite falling accident rates. Crash victims are being aggressively targeted by those who can make money out of their details and they are literally hounding them to make a claim within moments of an accident. Those tempted to make a claim when they do not have an injury should think again as making a fraudulent claim could lead to a hefty fine or prison sentence.”

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  1. Source: PCP research. The number of people that suffered a personal injury as a result of a car accident and were subsequently contacted by a claims management company was 44% in 2010, rising to 62% in 2011 and 67% in 2012.
  2. Source: PCP research. 13% of those encouraged to make a claim by a claims management company said they were approached at the scene of the accident to do so.
  3. Source: PCP research. Of those who were encouraged to make a claim by a claims management company following their accident, 10% said they were approached to make a claim via an information desk at the hospital.
  4. Source: PCP research. Those who had been in a road traffic accident were asked how many times that they were contacted by a claims management company or personal injury lawyer. The highest response was 340.
  5. LV= claims data shows that third party costs account for 49% of the compensation payout for any personal injury claim on average.
  6. Source: PCP research. Of those who were injured as a result of a road traffic accident in the last three years and sought compensation, 24% said they wouldn’t have made a claim if they hadn’t been encouraged to
  7. Source: the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act:

Notes to editors:

LV= commissioned PCP research to question 2,000 British adults (aged 18+) who had had a road traffic accident in the past three years (both drivers and passengers).

A freedom of information request was sent to all 51 Police forces in England, Wales and Scotland requesting information about handing over the contact details of people involved in road traffic accidents to third parties (e.g. claims management companies and personal injury lawyers) in the past three years, as well as the total amount received for this information. Only the Metropolitan Police, Hampshire Constabulary and Fife Constabulary supplied the specific data requested.

About LV=

LV= employs 5500 people and serves over five million customers with a range of financial products. We are the UK’s largest friendly society and a leading financial mutual.

When we started in 1843 our goal was to give financial security to more than just a privileged few and for many decades we were most commonly associated with providing a method of saving to people of modest means. Today we follow a similar purpose, helping people to protect and provide for the things they love, although on a much larger scale and through a wide range of financial services including insurance, investment and retirement products.

We offer our services direct to consumers, as well as through IFAs and brokers, and through strategic partnerships with organisations such as ASDA, Nationwide Building Society and a range of trades unions.

LVFS is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority, register number 110035. LVFS is a member of the ABI, the AFM and ILAG. Registered address: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF