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LV= Brings Fraudster Who Staged Car Accident To Justice

Press release: 25/07/2014

A Wolverhampton-based fraudster has been sentenced to twelve months in prison after attempting to claim compensation for a 'cash for crash' car accident.

Crash for cash fraud is when one or more individuals involve themselves willingly in a road traffic accident in an attempt to gain financially, often claiming for injuries such as whiplash, with additional pay-outs to compensate for loss of car or lost earnings.

Balraj Singh Thumber, aged 41 and from Wolverhampton, claimed that on 21 January 2011 he was involved in a car accident with Viktor Sivak. Mr Thumber said he was his Audi A4 driving past Mr Sivak's property when Sivak pulled out in his BMW 320 and crashed into the side of his car.

Mr Sivak was insured by LV= and had the claim been genuine, LV= would have paid out in excess of £250,000. Thumber alleged that he was injured in the accident and was claiming compensation for whiplash and shoulder injuries, as well as for the damage to his car, use of a hire vehicle and legal fees.

The case was investigated by LV='s claims crime prevention team as there were a number of factors that made it suspicious. The alleged accident happened just two days after the policy was taken out and there was no police involvement. Several different people called LV= claiming to be one of Sivak's friends to arrange an inspection of the vehicle; yet when LV= tried to arrange an inspection, Sivak would not confirm the location of the vehicle and just gave a mobile number for the inspection engineer to call.

Further investigation revealed that Thumber and Sivak knew each other, despite both parties denying this. And when a forensic engineer examined the two vehicles, he concluded that the damage was inconsistent with the alleged circumstances.

After the investigation, LV= turned down the claim on the grounds that the accident had been deliberately staged. At this point, Mr Thumber began proceedings against LV= for not paying his claim and pursued his case right up until the point of the trial starting before asking to withdraw his claim at the last minute. LV= then began proceedings against Mr Thumber for contempt of court and on 15 July, at the Royal Courts of Justice, Mr Thumber was sentenced to twelve months in prison.

According to research from LV=, it is estimated that over 300,000[1] accidents were staged in the past five years involving thousands of innocent motorists – equating to over 1,000 every week. LV= always investigates suspicious claims to make sure that fraudsters are brought to justice and do not profit from their crime.

In addition to staging accidents, LV= has seen a marked increase in fraudsters exaggerating the circumstances of an accident in an attempt to gain a higher pay out. For example, fraudsters may exaggerate or even invent an injury in order to claim compensation or try to claim for vehicle damage that is unrelated to the accident. One in three (32%) drivers who have been involved in an accident in the past two years say the other party tried to claim compensation for injuries to passengers who weren't in the vehicle at the time or say the other party exaggerated the circumstances of the accident in order to inflate their claim.

Every year there are tens of thousands of staged accidents, like this one, which put the safety of innocent motorists at risk. LV= takes a hard line on fraud, investigates all suspicious claims and pushes for the toughest sentences for those who are prosecuted. The evidence in this case was overwhelming and as a result Mr Thumber received a custodial sentence. We hope this sends a message to other fraudsters to deter them from committing this type of crime.

John O'Roarke, Managing Director of LV=

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Notes:

[1] According to ABI claims data there were approximately 15,945,000 private car insurance claims in the UK during 2009-2013. LV= estimates that 46% of these were not related to accidents based on analysis of its own claims data, which equates to 8,610,300 (54%) accident claims. It also assumes that two vehicles were involved in each accident on average, which equates to 4,305,150 individual accidents. This is a conservative estimate based on claims data only and does not include accidents that were not reported. According to PCP research, 7% of those involved in a car accident in the past five years believe the accident was staged and their description of the accident supports their belief. 7% of 4,305,150 equates to 301,361 staged accidents over the past five years.


For further information please contact:

Vanessa Chance, vanessa.chance@lv.com, 0208 256 6996/ 07947 380074


LV=

LV= employs 5,800 people and serves over 5.5 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 trade unions.

Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. LVFS is a member of the ABI, the AFM and ILAG. Registered address: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF.