Organised criminal gangs are moving away from whiplash injury into new types of injury claims, most notably industrial deafness, say the Insurance Fraud Bureau.
Constant press publicity once painted an exaggerated picture of Britain as the “whiplash capital” of Europe due to fraudulent claims linked to fake vehicle crashes. Proposed government reforms, including independent medical assessments aim to eliminate the criminal element from winning damages due to alleged road traffic injuries, which insurers claimed drove up driver premiums.
Claims for industrial deafness are estimated to have risen to 80,000 in 2013 compared with 55,000 in 2012, according to the Institute of Actuaries. Although only 10 per cent of claims were successful in winning damages, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) now suggest that criminal gangs are increasingly turning to industrial deafness as the new ‘cash cow’ to replace whiplash injury.
Insurers argue that industrial disease claims have dramatically risen to 40 per cent, pointing to a 14 per cent increase in employer liability “notifications” between 2012 and 2013. The Insurance Fraud Bureau says there is a current lack of a proper strategy for dealing with fraud other than motor claims and calls for “legislation” and “regulation”, which will prevent occupational disease from becoming a new fertile ground for fraudulent personal injury claims.
A claim for industrial deafness is only likely to succeed if negligence can be proven. The legal process, which can often be complex, requires an official report from an audiologist as well as a claimant’s full medical and occupational health records.
Since a City of London Police team of insurance fraud investigators was set up in 2011, more than 300 cases are being investigated every year compared with 114 three years ago. The team now has 29 detectives and a plan to target fraud involving personal injury claims.