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GPs report rise in attempted fraudulent personal injuries

Press release: 12/01/2012

  • Doctors (60%) report a sharp rise in patients attempting to make fraudulent claims for car accident injuries

  • Over half of all GPs (53%) have been contacted by claims companies in the last 12 months asking to buy patient details

  • 29,000 GP hours wasted every month by claims companies and people making up or exaggerating injuries [1]

The medical profession has seen a dramatic rise in the number of people attempting to claim compensation from exaggerated or invented injuries.

New research by LV= car insurance reveals almost two thirds of GPs (60%) say they have seen an increase over the last two years in the number of patients they believe are feigning and exaggerating injuries in an attempt to make a fraudulent compensation claim. Nearly nine out of ten (87%) GPs say at some point they have seen someone who was completely making an injury up and almost all GPs interviewed (96%) said they have been visited by someone they thought was exaggerating an injury.

At the same time, more than half of all GPs (53%) have been directly targeted in the past 12 months by claims management firms on the hunt for patient details in exchange for a fee. One in five GPs say they are contacted at least once a week - costing each GP almost five working days a year [2].

Verifying personal injury claims takes a lot of time and it is estimated that 29,000 GP hours are wasted every month across the UK while doctors deal with claims companies and people making up or exaggerating injuries in order to claim compensation.

According to the LV= research, the rise in attempted fraudulent claims can be partly attributed to the strong arm tactics of personal injury lawyers and claims management companies. Half of all Brits (51%) say they have been contacted out of the blue in the past year by one of these companies stating they may be able to make a claim, regardless of whether they had been in an accident or not [3].

As for those who have been injured in a car accident in the past 12 months, 60% say they have been pestered by a lawyer or claims management company following the incident trying to persuade them to make a claim using their services. This could suggest claims companies are being passed information from third parties ‘in the know' at the scene of the accident [4]. LV= is one of a number of insurers that do not sell on customer details in the event of an accident.

The research revealed that many people believe they will get away with making a fraudulent insurance claim, despite the authorities taking a tougher line on financial crime. One in four people who have been in a car accident in the last 12 months admit they attempted to exaggerate or feign injuries in order to claim compensation [5] and a quarter (23%) of these admit making an injury up entirely.

In the past three years, LV= car insurance has seen an increase in the number of whiplash claims where the circumstances were deemed to be suspicious and estimates that 15% of whiplash claims received in 2011 were potentially fraudulent [6]. In fact, British insurers uncover 40,000 fraudulent car insurance claims a year worth a combined £466 million [7]. This has lead to a significant increase in people being arrested and charged with insurance fraud.

This surge in attempted fraudulent personal injury claims means GPs are scrutinising cases more closely than ever. Three quarters (74%) of GPs say when faced with patients they suspect are exaggerating injuries they will chose their words carefully to ensure the recipient of the report understands their concerns, 70% will write exactly what they see and 38% would ask for further evidence or tell patients they need a second opinion.

John O'Roarke, managing director of LV= car insurance, said: "Attempted fraudulent personal injury claims waste time and money. GPs have increasingly large workloads and should not have to deal with fraudsters attempting to make a fast buck at the expense of law abiding motorists. Attempting to make a compensation claim when you do not have an injury is against the law and could lead to a hefty fine or prison sentence."


Notes

The research was split into two studies, commissioned by LV= car insurance and conducted by PCP research and Opinium research. PCP questioned 250 GPs about their experience of patients reporting injuries caused by car accidents during 9-14 December 2011. Opinium questioned a UK nationally representative sample of 2,012 UK adults during 2-5 December 2011.

  1. There are 41,349 GPs in the UK (British Medical Association, Oct 2010 http://bit.ly/iSUlkO). Source PCP: GPs spend 2.8 hours every month dealing with requests from personal injury lawyers and admin involved in personal injury claims, which totals 115,777 hours (41,349 x 2.8) each month for all GPs. 25% of patients who have had a personal injury following a car accident in the past year have exaggerated or made up their injury. Therefore, 28,944 hours (115,777 x 0.25) are wasted by GPs every month.

  2. Source: PCP research. GPs indicate they spend on average 2.8 hours each month dealing with requests from personal injury lawyers and dealing with the admin involved in personal injury claims, the equivalent of 4.8 days a year based on an eight-hour day (9am-5pm) with an hour lunch break.

  3. 51 per cent of Britons report that they had received text message from a personal injury lawyer or claims company in the past 12 months.

  4. The number of people of 2,012 UK adults sample who had a personal injury as the result of a car accident in the past 12 months was 40.

  5. Source: Opinium research. 10 respondents out of a 2,012 person sample reported exaggerating or making up a car accident injury to seek compensation in the last 12 months. As a percentage of the total sample this is 0.49 per cent. According to ONS population projections there were 49,529,000 adults in the UK in 2011. 0.49 per cent of 49,529,000 is 246,167

  6. Source: LV= car insurance whiplash claims data.

  7. Source: ABI "Value of detected fraud" 25 July 2011.

About LV=

LV= employs 5,000 people and serves over five 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 trades unions.

LVFS is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority, register number 110035. LVFS is a member of the ABI, the AFM and ILAG. Registered address: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF.