Saturday 20 January 2018

British police 'paid millions' by claims management companies for details of car crashes

POLICE forces have received millions of pounds for passing on the details of road accident victims to claims management companies, insurers and lawyers, it has emerged.

It may have led to thousands of people being pursued by “cash for crash” companies looking to profit out of personal injury claims, vehicle repairs and providing a replacement car.

Police forces denied making a profit, insisting the money they received was merely covering their administrative costs in providing details to insurers after a crash. Three forces — Fife, Hampshire and the Metropolitan Police — have admitted giving the contact details of more than 16,000 people to third parties. It is believed the practice is adopted by other forces, although they declined to provide details to LV.

The Met admitted it had been paid more than £5?million since 2009; Hampshire has received £480,000 since 2010, while Fife has been paid £194,000, a freedom of information request by LV Insurance found.

Jack Straw, the former Home Secretary who led a parliamentary campaign to curb accident claims companies, described the passing on of information as “scandalous”. “It is completely unacceptable that the police and public services are selling data in this way,” he said.

Having paid “referral fees” for individuals’ details, the firms can then text and phone motorists. One crash victim told LV he had been contacted 340 times by firms seeking business.

The fees will become illegal in April as part of Government attempts to reduce the cost of motor insurance.

Prof Stephen Glaister, of the RAC Foundation, said that although forces may be acting within the law, “creating a 'cash for crash’ culture doesn’t sit easily with constabularies’ civic duties”.

Scotland Yard accused LV of misinterpreting the data, saying it did not sell details to compensation lawyers or claims management companies. “As would be expected, every road traffic collision is investigated by police to see whether any offences have taken place and reports are filed as appropriate.”

Fife Constabulary said the fees were to cover costs, as did Hampshire Police. “The alternative would be spending £480,000 of taxpayers’ money on vehicle recovery on behalf of insurance companies.”

David Millward

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