Fraud – is it the Trojan Horse of the small claims debate?

25 January 2016

Last week we saw the Insurance Fraud Task Force deliver their report. I understand that the issue of the small claims limit was out of scope. I wonder why when clearly the Chancellor clearly sees that as his exocet missile to deal with the problem? Could it be that this is simply the best excuse he could find to do what the ABI have long since lobbied for?

If you look beyond the headline grabbing comment of corrupt lawyers, which I might add, I accept exist, as do corrupt accountants, surveyors and other professionals, but the truth is they are a small minority; you will find some interesting suggestions among the other key recommendations:

  • The government should consider changing the rules to penalise ‘late’ claims submitted after the injury has healed so that, for example, recoverable costs would be halved if a minor injury was notified six months after the accident, while there should be a rebuttable evidential presumption that no injury was suffered where claims are lodged after a specified period of time has elapsed since the alleged incident;
  • The regime for claims management companies should be strengthened;
  • The government should “develop and deliver a coherent regulatory strategy to tackle nuisance calls that encourage fraudulent personal injury or other claims”;
  • The government should consider introducing a fixed recoverable costs regime for noise-induced hearing claims; and
  • There should be a “legacy vehicle” established to ensure the task force’s recommendations are implemented.

Frankly I would agree with each and every one of these comments and indeed may go further for example, why allow out bound calls at all, including third party capture; they can only have one purpose, and that is to farm claims. The impact is an increased claims frequency, the main complaint we hear from the ABI, yet their own members play a significant part in that. I would also have suggested a one year limitation for RTA claims and may be a requirement for a claimant to have sought some kind of professional medical assessment or treatment within say 2 weeks of the index accident.

If correctly implemented and enforced these types of reforms can have a genuine impact on reducing both fraud and claims frequency whilst still allowing innocent victims to be compensated.

So it begs the question why was the small claims limit out of scope if that is now seen as the silver bullet? Draw your own conclusions, I have.