Hill Dickinson head of fraud Peter Oakes said claimant lawyers and accident management companies are finding ways to side-step the measures

Peter Oakes, Hill Dickinson

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (Laspo) reforms, aimed at cutting the costs of motor insurance claims, are having no impact on the level of fraudulent claims, according to Hill Dickinson head of fraud Peter Oakes.

Oakes was speaking following the release of the Hill Dickinson Claims and Fraud Index, published exclusively by Insurance Times.

Oakes said that measures such as the referral fee ban had not had the desired effect, as claimant lawyers and accident management companies had found alternative ways to gain additional revenue after the commoditisation of personal injury claims.

“[The reforms] are yet to have a significant impact on the levels of fraud our clients are experiencing,” he said.

”First of all you have the ban on referral fees, which was designed to stop the trade in personal injury claims.

“The biggest single driver of organised insurance fraud over the last 10 years has been the growth of the personal injury claim as a commodity, which has been driven by referral fees.

“The fact they have been banned has had little impact, as accident management companies and claimant firms have got around it by various mechanisms – including creating alternative business structures and payment through different mechanisms.”

He added: “There are just as many fraudulent claims now as we were seeing before the reforms.”

And Oakes was also not convinced that proposed further reforms, including data sharing with claimant law firms, would be beneficial, saying things could be made worse by the reforms.

“[The proposed data sharing reforms] will have little impact on the level of fraudulent claims that are generated,” he said.

“It will make it harder for the industry to fight those claims in some instances, because a claimant solicitor somewhere along the line will take on a claimant who has a claims history of significance.

“The difference now is they will probably be upfront about that history, and one of the main ways that we’ve been able to pick holes in claimant cases and identify and manage fraudulent claims is to look for and identify discrepancies in the claimant’s version of events.

“Historically, most multiple claimants lie about their accident history; they won’t be able to do that now so an avenue of enquiry is being closed,” Oakes said.

The second edition of the Hill Dickinson Claims and Fraud Index revealed that the cost of fraudulent claims in the self-drive private hire market is estimated to be £22m a year.

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