Just a few months ago figures released showed that Britain’s roads are as safe as they have been for a long time. Accidents were fewer and the amount of people injured on the roads had dropped significantly.
However, the cost of car insurance for under-25s is eye-watering and the average price for a 17-20 year-old male is £2,960. So why is insurance still so high?
The main reason, according to insurance companies, is a huge increase in litigation brought about by the expansion of the “no win, no fee” culture. This has increased legal bills across the board. On average there are around 200 road accident claims lodged every day and lawyers are only paid if the claim is successful, but their fees are substantial.
So is it that people are more aware of their rights to make a claim or is it that insurance companies are encouraging more people to push their luck and make a claim for an injury that actually might not be that bad?
It would seem a bit of both. Last year saw a 5% rise in the amount of whiplash claims in the UK, possibly claims that would not have been made if TV commercials hadn’t been so keen to get people to make a claim for an accident they have been involved in.
It’s estimated that each claim can increase a premium by around £80 per year, not really enough to justify the cost of some premiums, but it’s thought that the huge fees charged by legal firms and claims solicitors is what’s really behind the prices.
The darker side of a more litigious society can be seen in the so called “cash for crash” culture. This is where people deliberately become involved in accidents so that they can then claim for compensation. Mohammed Patel from Manchester was jailed for four years after being found guilty of deliberately causing accidents. For a fee of £500 per collision he intentionally caused 93 crashes in a three year period, each costing insurers an average of £17,000. He was only caught when insurers became suspicious that so many of these collisions took place at the same roundabout.
Patel was assisted by two brothers, Rezwan and Rehan Javed, who ran a firm called North West Claims Centre. They would create false invoices, which were then passed on to insurance companies. In total it’s thought that they cost the insurance industry around £12 million in total.
Though the people responsible for this more serious case of insurance fraud are now in prison, not all claims are organised by criminal gangs on such a large scale. This was highlighted by a survey on behalf of Moneysupermarket.com, which found that shockingly, one in 20 drivers aged under 35 had deliberately braked “in such a way as to cause the following motorist to collide with them,” so they could then make a claim for compensation.