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Title: Being persuaded to make fraudulent claim

Date: 18 April 2016

Q.

I was recently involved in a very minor accident. I wasn’t injured and there was only minor paint damage. I didn’t bother to take out legal cover on my insurance policy but it seemed my insurer still forwarded my details to one law firm, who passed it on to another law firm, who in turn have got an Accident Management firm on my case to persuade me to make a claim.

I had been given the 'sales spiel' to make it seem OK to put in a whiplash claim, but when I told them this was morally suspect I was told that: "If I don't put in a claim, they will put in a third-party claim against me personally." This is disconcerting and worrying. Where do I stand?

A.

If you weren’t injured you certainly shouldn’t make a claim and not doing so would not affect any claim against you, which would be paid by your insurers anyway. Despite legislation in 2013 outlawing referral fees being paid by solicitors to “buy” claims, the relationship between insurers and their panel solicitors remains a grey area. Accident management companies complicate things further still, as while solicitors are heavily regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, accident management companies are not.

They are regulated by the Claims Management Regulator which has a far looser code of conduct for how claims should be made. Loose as it maybe however, clearly this sort of pressure to make a fraudulent claim must be in breach of that code, which requires them to only make representations “which are not fraudulent, false or misleading”. In your case, by trying to pressure you into a fraudulent claim for their own benefit, they would also be committing the criminal offence of fraud themselves, which is committed when a person dishonestly makes a false representation to make a gain for himself or another.

The first step in getting them to leave you alone is to raise their conduct with the Claims Management Regulator. In the meantime you should speak to them directly and ask to speak to their complaints department so that you can ask why they are trying to make you perpetrate a fraud. You should explain that you will report them to the police if this continues.

It’s good practice to remember that anyone who calls you having had your details “passed” to them generally wants something from you. If you are injured or want legal advice after an accident your first port of call should be an independent specialist solicitor who can explain all of your legal options and will answer only to you.

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