General Insurance Article - A slight bump in the road

A claim arising from an October 2017 low speed impact road traffic accident in Bexhill-on-Sea has become insurance law firm Horwich Farrelly’s 500th finding of Fundamental Dishonesty (FD) in just six years – a ratio of seven a month since the term was first introduced under CPR 44.16 in 2013 and under S 57 of the Criminal Courts and Justice Act 2015.

 Ms Yvonne Aziz was a passenger in a stationary vehicle that suffered minor damage after another car reversed into it from a parking space. Even though the driver of the reversing vehicle admitted fault, the contradiction between the damage caused to the stationary car and the injuries alleged by Ms Aziz raised a red-flag for Horwich Farrelly’s award winning Fraud Team and a thorough investigation of the evidence was initiated.

 Following a short trial at Hastings County Court earlier this month, Ms Aziz’s claim was found Fundamentally Dishonest after providing an inconsistent account and relying on contradictory medical evidence. She was found to have exaggerated her injuries for the purposes of dishonestly claiming compensation from Aviva, the insurer of the driver at fault. Ms Aziz will now have to pay the legal costs of around £17,000 for pursuing her dishonest claim.

 Horwich Farrelly has worked closely with Aviva for the last six years to help the insurer defend policyholders who have been wrongly-accused of causing injuries stemming from minor accidents.

 Jared Mallinson, a fraud partner at the Manchester-based firm, said: “Our experience of dealing with fraudulent insurance claims proves that there is no such thing as a typical fraudster. Opportunistic fraudsters can be anyone, of any age, from anywhere.

 “Here, the claimant exaggerated her injuries totally out of proportion to the low speed of, and the lack of any discernible damage to, the vehicles involved. It was a straightforward, small ‘bump’ – one that occurs many times every day across the country - but she nevertheless claimed for injuries which she just could not have sustained and her dishonesty was apparent the minute questions were asked of her in court.”

 Explaining the firm’s approach to combatting dishonest and fraudulent insurance claims, Horwich Farrelly Managing Partner, Ronan McCann, added: “Even though litigated low speed impact cases are generally seen as difficult to win, they do make up the highest proportion of suspect matters for most motor insurers.

 “Working closely with Aviva, our award-winning Fraud Team are wary of any claim presented to us where severity and damage are minimal. We investigate these thoroughly and, wherever possible, push for Fundamental Dishonesty findings that could also facilitate the option, in the right circumstances, of Contempt of Court prosecutions.

 “Our concerted and combined approach appears to be working with Aviva. They share our strategy and methodology and that’s why we win more cases at trial and have more FD findings than any other firm, including eight in one day in August 2016.”

 Richard Hiscocks, Director of Casualty Claims, Aviva, concluded: “Too often, a minor bump is used as an excuse to make an injury claim. So when our customers tell us they’ve been wrongly accused of causing injury in an accident, we listen. Not only do exaggerated and bogus claims put pressure on premiums for honest customers, but for the driver involved, they face the premium impact that a fault claim can have. Working with solicitors such as Horwich Farrelly, we defend our customers from those who might use a minor fault claim purely for their own financial gain.”

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