Result paves the way for £130m damages claim against insurers

Hands giving motor car keys

The Court of Appeal has found in favour of Accident Exchange in four cases involving fraudulent evidence used by insurers in vehicle hire rate disputes.

Several major insurers had been using evidence gathered by the discredited company Autofocus, which researched car hire prices for insurance companies, to rebut claims.

This follows a decision by the Court of Appeal in 2011 that resulted in 27 insurers reaching compromise agreements with Accident Exchange in claims that totalled more than £12m.  

In the Court of Appeal judgment, Lord Justice Aikens confirmed that Autofocus staff had fabricated historic basic hire rates and evidence presented by witnesses employed by the company was “routinely altered by other employees.”

In a statement, Accident Exchange said that forensic accountants estimate the corporate and financial damage against Accident Exchange to be in excess of £130m.

New evidence presented by Accident Exchange highlighted the omission of more expensive hire rates in its evidence for the original trials, thereby making reports seem more favourable for insurers.  

Speaking after the judgment was handed down, Accident Exchange chief executive Steve Evans, said: “We first raised our concerns to the market in general in September 2009. It’s been a long and expensive four years of painstaking investigation to expose and prosecute this fraud. I personally reviewed almost 900,000 e-mails and other documents from the computer records of Autofocus. The significant volume of evidence presented to the court showed overwhelmingly the deceit brought on the judicial process in thousands of cases. I only hope those insurers who have sat on their hands for the past four years will now accept that the game is up and it’s time to do the right thing.”