A2J Open Letter to Aviva’s Chief Executive Colm Holmes

Dear Mr Holmes

Aviva’s general insurance business is on the record as saying that there have been 36,000 cash for crash incidents since the government first announced its intention to reform personal injury in November 2015.

The assertion was made in Insurance Times on 11 December, in a story entitled: £2.7bn paid out for minor injuries in two years. The article states: “Since the Autumn statement (2015), there have been 36,000 cash for crash incidents, according to Aviva’s data.”[1]

As you will be aware, Access to Justice (A2J) shares Aviva’s strong opposition to all criminal activity, including crash for cash, and we would like to see the government provide more resources to the police to stamp out this form of crime.

Cash for Crash is a high profile issue, so I hope you will agree that it is important to ensure that the data you cite is in the public domain, so that it can be properly peer reviewed.

However, your own statistics are at odds with those cited by Ben Fletcher, head of the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB), who is on the record (18 October) as saying there are 36,500 cash for crash incidents every year, double your own estimate.

I would be grateful if you could explain the variance.

Fraud is a controversial issue precisely because there is no impartial data that gives a clear picture of the true extent of fraud. In its report: Cost of Motor Insurance, Whiplash (2013), the Transport Committee recommended as follows:

There is no authoritative data publicly available about the prevalence of fraudulent or exaggerated claims for whiplash injuries and no consensus about what constitutes fraud. There is considerable scope for the insurance industry to provide clearer data about the number of whiplash (and other personal injury) claims which it is confident are genuine and those which give cause for concern, ranging from the out-and-out fraudulent to those where symptoms may have been exaggerated. Industry-wide agreement about how to classify claims and the collection of data by the ABI would strengthen the case for the Government to act. We recommend that the Government press the ABI to provide better data about fraudulent or exaggerated personal injury claims, so that there is a stronger evidence base for policy decisions.

Given the continued absence of impartial data, the insurance industry’s aggressive position on fraud, and the impact of fraud on motor premiums, must continue to be questioned, especially if you continue to use your own data to make your arguments

I would be most grateful if you could provide the enlightenment that the Transport Select Committee and other interested parties, including members of the Justice Select Committee, require.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Twambley

Spokesperson, Access to Justice

[1] https://www.insurancetimes.co.uk/27bn-paid-out-for-minor-injuries-over-two-years/1425807.article