Insurers Caught Out Again
Car insurers have been exposed once again, this time for hiking up premiums for drivers not at fault.
In an article by the Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/22/insurance-firms-hike-premiums-even-for-drivers-not-at-fault-in-a/) an undercover investigation exposed insurers for increasing premiums by more than a third even for drivers not at fault in a crash.
This goes against the very heart of the country’s legal system – that only the wrongdoer should pay. Insurers, using powerful and well funded lobby groups such as the Association of British Insurers (ABI), have done much to propagate the falsehood that innocent victims are the cause of increasing premiums, but investigations like this, plus insurers’ failure to pass on savings back to customers following substantial reductions in legal fees in 2013, are chipping away at such notions.
Many people in the country are completely unaware that insurers are on the verge of extinguishing people’s legal rights altogether when it comes to road traffic accident matters; we are soon heading for a “pay but don’t claim” system.
Insurers have tried various strategies in recent years to block citizen’s legal rights; the most common tactic is vastly exaggerating the number of fraudulent claims without any evidence in support of alleged figures (and not mentioning the fact fraudulent claimants do not receive any money and in fact have to pay the other party’s legal costs).
Outside of road traffic law insurers have also set their sights on noise induced hearing loss claims. The reason? They struggle to defend these cases as their former policyholders clearly and continuously broke the law. Alleging fraud and then seeking to pressure the Government to introduce changes, in order to make such cases not economically viable for law firms to run, represents their best hope of avoiding having to pay out, and as such they are pursuing this route vigorously at present.
I was reading an appalling news article by DWF Solicitors recently which sought to allege widespread fraud in noise induced hearing loss cases (unbelievably, one of their allegations was that people fabricate having worked for a company, despite the fact inland revenue records are always provided!). The article contained not one case study or statistic in support of their allegations. Anyone who has practised noise induced hearing loss law will tell you the same thing: the clients are overwhelmingly “salt-of-the-earth” type working class people who have worked hard and paid into the system all their life. Clearly insurers feel they must do all they can to blacken the character of such people if they are to avoid having to pay out and that, in my view, is very poor.
If the insurers have their way in abolishing the right to claim in road traffic accidents most estimates suggest the public might save around £40.00 each on their current premiums (though some estimates have it much lower) – I don’t know about you but if insurers are unjustly increasing premiums by a third, it takes tremendous temerity in promising a possible £40.00 saving in exchange for surrendering fundamental legal rights – why not give everyone that third back first?
As a solicitor I am repeatedly appalled at the tactics of well-funded lobby groups such as the ABI seeking to mould the nation’s justice system into one that suits their stakeholders i.e. one in which premiums are collected but claims are prevented. Hopefully more investigative journalism such as the Telegraph’s article will further expose the current tactics at play.
If you would like to know more, or let us have your views, then please feel free to contact us on 0161 447 9191 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By James Winterbottom, Solicitor