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Catch up with the latest press releases from LV=

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Doctors say fake injuries are on the increase

Press release: 07/08/2009

  • Nearly all GPs (98%) say that they have seen a patient they thought was exaggerating an injury in order to claim compensation.

  • 85% of GPs say they thought they had seen a patient who was completely making up an injury.

  • Almost one in four GPs (24%) have seen a surge in attempted ‘fakers’ since the recession began.

  • 94% say the increase in this type of fraud is driven by an attempt to claim compensation.

  • Nine out of ten (88%) say whiplash is the most commonly ‘tried on’ injury.

  • 77% of GPs said that if they had any suspicions they would either not sign a medical form or would ask for further evidence of the injury.

GPs have seen a dramatic rise in the number of patients faking injuries in order to claim compensation, according to new research from LV= car insurance.

The research conducted among GPs has revealed that two-thirds of doctors (65%) have seen an increase in the number of attempts to make a fraudulent injury claim over the past ten years, with almost one in four reporting a surge since the recession began.

Research reveals a 25% rise in personal injury claims over the past six years, costing the NHS £8m in consultation fees every year and the insurance industry nearly £2bn in compensation payments (1).

The most commonly attempted personal injury fraud is for whiplash, according to doctors.

Whiplash compensation claims have a significant impact on car insurance costs, estimated to make up 20% of everyone’s premium (2). So the insurance industry is working closely with the medical profession to ensure that legitimate claims are supported whilst weeding out and stamping down on any false claims.

The UK has twice the number of whiplash injuries reported compared with the rest of Europe (3) and the medical profession is becoming more wary of people attempting to make fraudulent claims. Half of GPs (49%) said they are now more likely to scrutinise patients ‘injuries’ where compensation could be gained, and over a third (36%) said they are now less likely to write a letter to support a claim.

Commenting on the findings, Dr Harry Brunjes, Chairman of LV=’s medical advice provider, Premier Medical Group said: “The medical profession always has been, but is increasingly sensitive to individuals who could potentially defraud their employer or insurer as a result of exaggeration or even fabrication of clinical signs and symptoms. As a profession it is important that best practice is maintained and medical certification is only issued for those with genuine diseases and injuries and not those with inappropriate illness behaviour, whatever its manifestation.”

Fraud against an employer or insurance company is a serious crime. Anyone found guilty will have a criminal record, could lose their job and could go to prison for three years or more (4).

While the majority of phony injury claims are for whiplash, doctors have also reported cases of people trying to fake post-traumatic stress and depression as ways of fraudulently claiming compensation.

Although the vast majority of GPs said the increase in faked injuries was driven by people trying to get compensation, other common reasons cited included people trying to get time off work (66%), the ‘blame’ culture that exists in the UK (70%), because they are hypochondriacs (13%) or simply because they want attention (31%).

Martin Milliner, head of claims at LV= car insurance, said: “Clearly anyone who has a genuine injury as a result of an accident that wasn’t their fault, and loses out or can’t work as a result of it, is entitled to compensation. However anyone trying to get money for an injury that doesn’t exist is not only breaking the law but also wasting valuable NHS time and resources. We would urge any GP who has doubts about someone reporting an injury to investigate further to ensure that it is genuine.”

“People may see making up an injury as a result of a car accident as a harmless crime and a quick way to make money, but if they are allowed to get away with it all car insurance premiums would be pushed up which is unfair on the honest motorist.”

For more info on LV= car insurance log on to www.lv.com/insurance/car-insurance.


LV=

LV= is a registered trade mark of Liverpool Victoria Friendly Society Limited (LVFS) and a trading style of the Liverpool Victoria group of companies.

LV= employs over 3,800 people, serves around 3.6 million customers and members, and manages around £7 billion on their behalf. We are also the UK’s largest friendly society (Association of Friendly Societies Key Statistics 2008, total net assets) and a leading mutual financial services provider.

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


Notes

All research (unless marked otherwise) was conducted among GPs by research agency PCP, member of the Market Research Society. PCP questioned a bespoke sample of 250 GPs about personal injury claims.

(1) ABI report ‘Tackling whiplash’ November 2008

(2) ABI report ‘Tackling whiplash’ November 2008

(3) ABI report ‘Tackling whiplash’ November 2008

(4) http://www.sentencing-guidelines.gov.uk/docs/consultation_guideline_sentencing_for_fraud_statutory_offences.pdf