There are an estimated three million claims for crashes in Britain every year and the cost of premiums are rising. New technology in cars, criminal gangs orchestrating insurance scams and fraudulent personal injury claims are just some of the factors forcing up car insurance.
ITV’s Tonight programme examined the reasons why our premiums are going up in Secrets of Your Car Insurance.
75% of all personal injury claims in Britain are for whiplash, whereas in France that figure is only 3%. And it’s no surprise that not all those claims are legitimate. Claims are often found to be dishonest and some people even claim whiplash when they are not even in their vehicle at the time of the accident - as seen in CCTV footage in the programme.
It’s something that we see on a daily basis... People think that insurers don't investigate claims and that it is easy money. I can assure you that is not the case.”
In the programme Tonight reporter Aasmah Mir meets Heidie Drinkwater - a whiplash claimant who was found to be “fundamentally dishonest” by a judge. But Heidie says she was pressurised into making a claim by cold callers ringing her. It’s estimated we received 720 million calls and texts last year from companies chasing personal injury claims.
Not all the crashes on Britain’s roads are caused by accident. A criminal scam called “crash for cash”, which stages accidents on public roads on purpose, costs Britain's insurers £300m a year and adds on average £50 to our premiums. Police from the City of London have a specialist unit dealing with insurance fraud called the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department. The programme features them making a dawn raid to arrest a suspect who was part of an alleged “crash for cash” scam.
Criminality isn’t the only cause of Britain’s rising premiums. One of the biggest costs for insurers is unscrupulous companies that hire out courtesy cars on credit – sometimes charging up to £500 a day.
Credit hire is a big cost to insurers, we probably spend about three hundred million pounds a year. They basically target consumers providing them with cars they don't need - more expensive cars than they need for longer periods of time and when they try and return those cars, mysteriously it’s not possible to do so.”
Secrets of Your Car Insurance is on ITV at 7.30pm