By Jennie Harrison, Hampson Hughes Solicitors
A common question faced by the Hampson Hughes Road Traffic Accidents team is “how long will my case take to settle?”
Increase in fraudulent claims
Unfortunately, this is not a question that is easily answered, as insurers are increasingly on the lookout for fraudulent claims – meaning that any investigation carried out by an insurer may now take longer.
The Association of British Insurers estimates that undetected general insurance claims fraud totals £2.1 billion per year. This equates to an average of £50 extra on the annual insurance premium for the individual policy holder. According to a recent Insurance Fraud Bureau news release, there were 6060 reports from the public of suspected fraudulent insurance claims in 2013 – equal to one report every 87 minutes.
We often find that a client’s claim has been referred to the insurer’s ‘claims validation team’ or ‘insurance fraud team’ for further investigation prior to the insurer admitting fault. The insurer is under no obligation to advise us as to their concerns or issues during the investigation – this means that it is difficult for us to adequately advise our clients on the exact reason for the hold-up.
Various reasons for a delay
In reality, there are many potential reasons as to why an insurance company may not be in a position to progress a personal injury claim. For example, the insurer may experience difficulty in contacting the defendant, and therefore cannot gain an understanding of his or her version of events.
If the third party insurers do not agree a deal, court proceedings may be issued. However, in order to comply with the pre-action protocol for personal injury claims, the client’s claim must satisfy certain criteria. Initially, the claim must be submitted electronically via the ‘MOJ Portal’. If the third party insurers deny liability for the accident – or do not respond within the given time frame – they will be given three months in which to carry out an investigation. If liability is either denied or remains undetermined after this period, court proceedings can be considered.
Whether there has been an increase in fraudulent claims, or simply an increased awareness, solicitors and clients are now forced to provide more and more substantiating evidence.
Third party investigations
Investigations carried out by Third Party Insurers are becoming increasingly extensive – including searching social media for possible links between parties, and inspecting the client’s accident history.
If a claim is issued at Court, and the Defendant has concerns over the validity of the case, the Court will often order the Claimant to disclose various documents – which may include documents such as medical records, ID, details of previous accidents, and mobile phone records.
Whilst fraud claims are properly handled as sensitive and serious matters, Claimants may feel that insurers ‘go overboard’ in their investigations (in that insurers may appear to explore seemingly abstract details in search of ‘alarm bells’ – such as establishing whether an accident has occurred in an area known for producing a high frequency of accidents).
Hampson Hughes Solicitors – the personal injury experts
Here at Hampson Hughes, we understand the frustration felt by our clients where claims do not progress as smoothly as anticipated.
That is why we will ensure that you fully understand the processes involved. So as to progress with your case as quickly as possible, we will seek the evidence we need in the early stages of your claim, and we will make regular contact with third party insurers.
If you, or someone you know, has been involved in a road traffic accident caused by a negligent third party in the last 3 years, contact Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6888.