If you’ve just had a car accident, the last thing you want is to end up on the phone to an unscrupulous claims firm. Find out how to avoid falling victim to claims firms posing as legitimate companies, and the tips and tricks you need to make sure you’re talking to your insurer.
- Unscrupulous claims firms pay search engines like Google to appear at the top of advert listings
- Motorists call the number they’ve found on Google, and assume they’re speaking to their insurer
- We’ve compiled our top tips to help customers get through to us, not third parties
We want to make sure our customers are aware of claims farming and the ever-growing fraudulent behaviour surrounding claims. Which? has called on Google to do more to tackle scam adverts after finding a host of dubious firms appearing at the top of Google searches for car insurance claims numbers and similar searches. So, here's everything you need to know…
What are claims management companies?
A claims management company (CMC) is a business that offers claims management services to the public. Often, they offer advice or services to help people making claims pursue compensation, restitution or repayment. Some of their services include providing hire cars, vehicle recovery and assisting with personal injury claims.
Claims management firms involved in personal injury claims are now regulated by the FCA.
Why are they in the news?
Some unscrupulous claim management companies are using search engines to their advantage. The firms are paying search engines, such as Google, to appear at the top of their rankings when drivers search for their insurance company’s phone number after a crash. When clicking on these search results on a mobile device, the handset automatically dials the number, meaning customers never see the website. If they did, they would be able to recognise that it’s not their insurers own site.
Drivers are then connected to another firm, which organises a replacement hire car and has the caller’s own car collected by a recovery company instructed by the CMC. Though customers believe this is all being paid for by their insurer and part of the service offered by their policy, they can end up being liable for significant costs. This Is Money reported one customer had a replacement car for more than a year, costing more than £50,000.
These claims management companies are abusing the trust people put in their insurers and preying on victims at one of their most vulnerable times, following an accident.
What's the impact?
Many victims have been liable for thousands of pounds.
Matt Crabtree, complex and organised crime manager at LV=, says: “These claims management companies are abusing the trust people put in their insurers and preying on victims at one of their most vulnerable times, following an accident. I have spoken to numerous people affected by this scam and they all say the same thing - they thought they were talking to LV= and had they known they were through to a CMC they would have hung up straight away.
We've seen customers receive parking tickets and speeding fines when their cars are supposed to have been getting repaired by the CMC, and on one occasion, a customer’s car was sold by the CMC without their knowledge or consent.
As well as the financial risk, people are not getting the service they deserve and pay for when taking out their policy, so we continue to work closely with the wider industry and regulators such as The FCA, The ICO and Trading Standards to ensure those behind these scams are identified and brought to justice.”
What should I look out for?
When you click on a link after searching for your car insurance provider, make sure it’s legitimate. Several claims firm websites use the name of insurance companies, including LV=, but are not in any way affiliated with genuine insurers. So, if you’re concerned about a suspicious email, phone call or text message, we’ve pulled together some need to know info to keep you safe from scammers.
How can I make sure I'm on the phone to LV=?
- If you've had an accident, have phoned up and you’re through to a claims handler, ask them to confirm they are from LV=. Don’t accept that they are ‘working with or on behalf of’ LV=.
- If you’re unsure, hang up and check your policy documents for the number to call. You can also refer to our how to make a car claim page.
Remember, if you’re not sure, it’s best to hang up and check your documents for the correct number. If you have an LV= car insurance policy and need to make a claim, just give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.
The numbers you need are:
0800 202 8464
From abroad: +44 1689 898603
Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Calls will be recorded. For Text Phone, first dial 18001.
Perhaps consider storing the LV= claims number in your phone or having it in your car should you need to call us following an accident.
How else can I stay safe?
- Check the website you’re on is the LV= website. The URL is lv.com.
- If you’ve searched for LV= and clicked on a Google ad, check the ad is from LV=, not a third party.
- If in doubt, give us a call.
LV= is not responsible for content on third party websites.