Rates rise due to ambulance chasing lawyers?

It’s time for that old refrain from car insurance companies: your rates are rising because ambulance-chasing lawyers are ratcheting up insurance claims.

At least, that’s what AXA Insurance claims. A new research study from the insurer says that around 20 per cent of Brits get one of those “nuisance calls” on the old dog and bone each day from a source exhorting them to make a claim against car insurance companies for any accidents they’ve been in. These unwanted solicitations by phone are supposedly encouraging an increasing number of motorists to claim against their motor car insurance when they otherwise wouldn’t, often for spurious personal injury claims that might be less than honest. That’s around 12 million calls every day, according to the insurer.

Now, anyone who knows anything will be aware that the Government cracked down on the kinds of claims management companies that engaged in this sort of behaviour by making it exceedingly difficult for them to do so a few years ago. In order to compensate for their inability to conduct the more targeted approaches of yesteryear, these CMCs now cast as wide a net as they can, engaging in blanket attempts to find anyone, anywhere, who might have gotten into an accident, AXA says.

Is this true? Well it’s hard to say. Car insurance companies aren’t exactly known for being transparent and to have their policyholders’ best interests to heart. I’m not going to say that there isn’t a problem when it comes to fraudulent car insurance claims – they most certainly do happen. Yet I’m not so sure if AXA and other insurers aren’t blowing the problem out of proportion in order to justify their constant hikes to all of our car insurance rates. More money goes out, insurers say, so they have to rake more money in to cover the shortfall. Whiplash claims alone increased rates by £90 last year, insurers claim.

I really don’t know who to believe, for what it’s worth. We’re relying on data gathered by insurers specifically to support their own claims. You can say anything you want with statistics if you know how to spin the figures, so excuse me if I’m going to be more than a little skeptical. If a disinterested third party had conducted the research and found the same thing, that’s a different kettle of fish altogether, but in this case I think I’m going to take anything an insurer says with a very large grain of salt.

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