The huge cost to genuine insurance customers thanks to con artists who file fraudulent claims has been laid bare in a bogus case worth more than a quarter of a million pounds.
A 10mph crash involving a double-decker bus and a Ford Fiesta resulted in damage to the bus of just £70, but eventually led to a mass claim for whiplash by the passengers – only after they’d finished their night out at a club.
The scam happened following the “accident” in Crewe three years ago, although details of the case have only just emerged. Most of the 46 people on the “party bus” weren’t even aware of the collision, and none of them sought medical attention before their evening in the nightclub.
Yet later on there were 46 claims for whiplash lodged, totalling more than £250,000.
The case came to light after Aviva – which was the Fiesta driver’s insurer – looked into the case as part of a campaign focusing on staged accidents involving buses.
It would appear that in this case neither the claimants nor the law firms that represented them were particularly bright. As well as the minimal damage caused to the bus, the Fiesta driver reported nothing more than a one-inch mark on his bumper. Yet the claimants and their advisers somehow thought they could get away with such a huge whiplash claim.
“This claim highlights the outrageous scale of whiplash fraud in the UK being driven by the current system, and which frankly has become a national disgrace,” says Tom Gardiner, head of fraud at Aviva.
“We believe our customers are fed up paying for spurious and fraudulent injury claims through their premiums and they expect us to defend these claims on their behalf.
“In this case, our customer described the impact as ‘minimal’ – neither he nor anything else inside his vehicle was moved by the impact. In fact, the only damage to his vehicle was a one-inch split on his bumper.
“Given this, and the £70-worth of damage to the bus, it was highly unlikely that such a minor bump could result in so many injuries.”
Mr Gardiner adds: “Despite evidence the claims were bogus, 21 of the 23 litigated claimants were still represented by just two firms of solicitors at trial, resulting in considerable legal costs being incurred.
“This also highlights the abuse of courts and the significant drain on public resources as a result of fraudulent claims.”
Aviva said it detected nearly 20% more organised scams last year, and has so far linked more than 4,000 suspect whiplash claims to so-called “crash for cash” scams.