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The Great Car Insurance Swindle - join in the debate

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Eamonn Walsh | 15:36 UK time, Monday, 11 July 2011

With motor insurance premiums up nearly 40% this year Panorama investigates the car insurance industry from top to bottom.

We go undercover to infiltrate a criminal gang faking accidents for fraudulent insurance claims and we look at who's benefitting from some of those text claim messages we're all getting.

Declan Lawn investigates what's gone wrong with the industry and discovers how we're all paying for it. 

We welcome your views on The Great Car Insurance Swindle. Please use our forum to leave your comment.


  • Comment number 1.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    finally, somebody who looks at what we, the UK motorists, aready knows, we are beinmg ripped off big style.

    Insurance companies share information and reap the rewards by criminalising the motorist and asking only two questions when they ask 'who was to blame'?

    I had a car written off in the ice, in Jan 2010, the insurance decided it was MY fault because the road, a busy urban road, was unsalted by Birmingham Council. There should be a third alternative - Explain WHY you believe YOU are not at fault. And, it was NOT my fault. As a consequence Churchill more than doubled my premium and I have no right of redress. If I go to another, the info is shared and I still have no option but to pay. Rip off Britain, and Rip Off Insurance Companies.

    It only takes ONE insurance company to break the mould, and they will reap the rewards from grateful motorists.

  • Comment number 3.

    This was the most one sided and ambiguous presentation I have witnessed from Panorama. What a mess. There are five issues here. The programme dealt with none.

    1. How to tackle criminals who abuse a system which benefits the vast majority of the honest injured public?
    2. Whether there is a compensation culture?
    3. What are referral fees and are they necessary?
    4. What causes legal costs to increase in personal injury cases?
    5. How to tackle companies or individuals who breach the Data Protection Act (which is apparently prevalent in many industries)?

    There has been a considerable amount of misleading information broadcast in this programme. In particular, Declan's repeated references to a "compensation culture." At no stage during the programme did Declan refer to the Government reports on this subject. In Lord Young of Graffham's recent review of health and safety for the Prime Minister he found that the so-called compensation culture was "perception rather than reality".

    The Government’s own statistics show that the number of personal injury claims has fallen in most categories during the past ten years.

    This subject keeps returning to the media spotlight due to misreporting by the press thereby creating the “perception” referred to by Lord Young.

    This programme touched on the subject of road traffic accidents however it is also important to consider accidents in the workplace and clinical negligence claims.

    Clearly there are criminals in society who will attempt to abuse the system as indicated in this programme. These people should be brought to justice. Some criminals will succeed with their aim, but in reality, the majority don't. These people should not be allowed to ruin a system designed to grant access to justice for honest Claimants which, on the whole is working, save for Defendant insurers realising the flaws in their systems.

    The Ministry of Justice’s reforms of civil litigation funding and costs are grossly unfair for some of the weakest members of our society. There is a real possibility that people with complicated claims, and those who are left catastrophically injured, are at risk of being denied access to justice because of savage proposals.

    Access to justice should never be restricted in any drive to cut costs. The focus should be on finding efficiencies in the system and preventing needless injury occurring in the first place.

    In addition, a new system for dealing with road traffic accident cases was introduced in 2010 with the aim of controlling legal costs. This was not referred to by the programme.

    How can the Government and this programme justify pushing ahead with reforms which risk stopping the most seriously injured people from obtaining justice?
    In reality, the solicitor from Liverpool is correct. In cases outside the new road traffic claims system, Defendant insurance companies continue to staff their claims handling teams with people lacking technical legal knowledge thereby causing litigation where it shouldn’t be necessary. These cases often progress into Court proceedings and settle as soon as the insurers legal team takes expert legal advice. This is usually at the 11th hour in the weeks leading up to a trial, not because of costs risk, but because someone has chosen to defend the impossible at an earlier stage in the life of a case. These failings substantially increase costs and premiums.

    It is easy to blame the lawyers for increased costs, but its now time to properly examine the inefficiencies of the insurance industry in this area.

  • Comment number 4.

    I have a wide circle of friends and this topic of the cost of insurance has been high on the agenda. The results of this report sighting insurance fraud for the reasons of raising insurance might go some way explaining this issue. People I know say that re classification of bank owned insurance companies have more than doubled prices since the banking crash. I have proof from a broker stating a large insurance corp. bought a smaller insurance company and shut it down for existing customers, effectively removing a large part of their business. Other reasons are post code streamlining again by big insurance companies. Insurance companies own the price comparison sites. No mention of any of these reasons in this documentary and that is very strange!!

  • Comment number 5.

    I am currently learning to drive and my boyfriend bought me a Vauxhall Tigra for my birthday. I was so happy, until I started getting insurance quotes for the vehicle. It is a 1.4 Tigra and it is not modified in any way, yet I am being quoted ridiculous quotes.

    I received a phone call from a well known insurance company, and the customer service guy quoted me £40,000 and then had the cheek to say is that a bit expensive !! This is almost 40 times what the car is worth and when I ask for justification, no one seems to be able to explain it to me, apart from using the excuse 'car insurance premiums have risen by 35 %'.

    Between the cost of insuring a car, paying road tax and the ever rising cost of fuel, there is no incentive for people to want to learn to drive. I for one am extremely disappointed that in this day and age, no one seems to care anymore. The cost of insurance is an absolute joke, as well as all other house hold bills on the rise.

    When are we going to say enough is enough?!

  • Comment number 6.

    Saw Panorama last night, Well done. Set the alarm bells ringing with us though. My friend's car was damaged in Dec. 10 she was not in the car it was parked. Gentleman skidded on the icy road into her car. Although only the body panel was damaged the car was written off! The insurance paid her 1,300, she bought a new panel had it checked by VOSA etc and back on the road again. Now she has received a claim pack from a solicitor 7 months later. They have threatened her if she refuses to fill it in, that she will lose her no claims bonuses. The other party insurance is well known S***. This smells like a scam to me. The investigators need to find out why insurance companies are scrapping cars off with such minimal damage. Years ago we were rewarded for having no claims and our premiums were actually cheaper. Why the hell should we give all these people a living. Some major changes to insurance laws need to be introduced.

  • Comment number 7.

    There is an organisation called the Insurance Fraud Bureau which works on behalf of insurers co-ordinating insurance fraud cases/operations with Police forces to bring insurance fraudsters to justice. Insurance fraud adds approximately £44 per year to every insurance premium, so providing information is vital. The Bureau runs a free and confidential Cheatline where you can report information on insurance fraud either over the telephone 0800 328 2550 or over using its website https://www.insurancefraudbureau.org/report/

  • Comment number 8.

    After Panorama investigating the car insurance industry from top to bottom we found out what insurance companies wanted you to find out. It's not their fault but everybody else’s fault and they are the victims in all this price rising.

    Yet a small 15-minute investigation by me using only internet finds that: 4 major companies own almost all car insurance underwriters, of these 3 are part of banking groups. 3 online price comparison sites are owned by 3 insurance providers.

    Katie states (Insurance fraud adds approximately £44 per year) so i ask why my insurance went from £334 to £660 with some quoting £900 and i have 13 years no claims. This topic was also on watchdog with 100s stating the same thing as me. A small pole would see different reasons for insurance hikes than the ones on this program. I question the validity of this program and its content????

  • Comment number 9.

    I really enjoyed the programme, so well done Panorama.

    Just one thing though, why didn't you ask the referral company for the name of the firm that issued the text message? They said they bought the info from them, so they must surely know who they are. If you did and they refused, then you should have said so. Then we could make our minds up whether the referral company really were complicit in the breaches of 'unsolicited call' regulations.

  • Comment number 10.

    Just one observation , the programme suggested a direct link between referral fees paid out by Solicitors to claims management companies as a reason for rising Insurance premiums. This is completely wrong . The costs paid out by a solicitor in such instances are NOT recoverable as part of the claims process ,they are not a recoverable disbursement , they are simply a direct marketing expense that has to be borne by the Solicitor firm.

  • Comment number 11.

    What reason did the police give for sending two cars to meet the Panorama team at the car rental office? Is there another story here?

  • Comment number 12.

    Job well done Panorama team, though its not limited to one such bogus claim company broker gang. What i dont understand, why its so easy to setup such bogus companies. Ministry of Justice must be very easy on these thugs. Even in the program ring leader manages to establish another company on the very same peremises, when the previous one somehow ended its life. On top of scamming thousends of pounds in fake claims, they still declare these as total exemption - small with inlande revenue and pay 0 tax! We people paying the cost in terms of insurance. These gangs dont realise this as crime, but think its normal to make millions like this. For Mr Siddique filmed by panorama, its family business and other such companies are setup by other family members and friends. its just tip of an iceberg. Now police should a good job and bring these to justice before they escape!

    After making injury claims, they also bill for fake courtesy rentals, and for such yards as storage facilites at daily rates!!

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.

    Dear sir/madam

    I am writting to not just complain about a particular car insurance company and their practices, but the whole industry and the lack of control by the FSA letting the companies put on everyone in a time of squeeze.
    I personally, today have applied to insure a car that i was going to buy for £495 to get me around and to work for a short period. Now this car has a 1.4ltr petrol enigine. Im being priced £1300 to the cheapest insurer. I'm 27, have driven for two years and in that time not crashed, sped nor claimed. Yet my quotes are higher than when I first started driving.
    How is this acceptable in an ever squeezing economy, with fuel prices rising and cost of living going up without payrises to follow due to business feeling the squeeze, with a government always putting more on everyone without giving back.
    I have spent the whole day "shopping around" which is what advisory sites regularly state, and i've done a little research into why our insurances are going up so much, Well i cant blame the uninsured drivers when their better off running the risk with a £200 fine and a car being taken from them when their insurances are so high. Also blaming a sue culture is an unbelievable cop out, we've inherited those practices from America. And their insurance's are not anywhere near the price of ours. These quotes price me out of driving which minimises the amount of work i am able to do. which again obviously brings my income down further therefore less to spend, i know i am not the only one in this situation. With bus services becoming more and more expensive and not putting on enough services to all area's early enough for people to get to work at the times business's like the ones I have opportunities to work for expect people there.
    How is that good for an already failing economy?!
    I hope in the short term future this can be brought under control, as im disgusted and looking to take my qualifications as a British national else where.
    I dont know why ity isnt making the fake insurance claim gangs uninsurancable and not the average never claim money for nothing policy holder

  • Comment number 15.

    Any updates, what happened to this gang, have they been arrested or any investigation against them? or our Police is too busy in riots and phone hacking? Havent seen any progress on bringing these criminals to justice. It will be a shame if the efforts of BBC Panorama doesnt even get noticed by the authorities and the government.

  • Comment number 16.

    At the moment, i'm going through the process of an insurancee claim due to a car accident. I feel that because the Government want to stop claims and the NHS want to make cut backs. I feel that there is a conspiracy to prevent genuine people claiming any monies from accidents. When medical reports are done, regarding car accidents, eveything is played down regarding your injuries. If I had the money , things would be a lot different. If your involved in an accident, don't trust anyone. But most of all be genuine. Hope anyone reading this never has the bad luck of being in an accident. Happy Driving.

  • Comment number 17.

    6 months down the line, absolutely nothing happened to these criminal that were un covered by BBC team. This country has become too soft on crimes as like this and hard for people who abide by the rules! What a joke no news whats so ever about Mr Siddique and his gang who is still active with different companies now, made million at the cost of innocent insurance payers. What this government is doing not even going after red handed caught criminals??


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