Whiplash lies drive up insurance premiums - don’t be tempted
PUBLISHED: 10:23 28 February 2019
Rachel Moore was exhausted by a phone call trying to get her to ‘remember’ injuries from her car crash that never happened. She issues a stark warning to anyone tempted to lie
A cheque for £2,500 is waiting for me, apparently; with my name on it. All I need to do is tell the persuasive young man called Michael who called me last week that I had suffered some discomfort after my road accident last spring.
Was I really sure that I hadn’t felt anything in my neck, head or lower back after the back-end shunt, he asked, as if I couldn’t possibly be sure of anything?
Last April was a long time ago, he went on. I could have easily forgotten that I had two or three months of pain, or niggles at least.
The crash had happened three days before my father’s funeral, so I might not have been wholly aware of injury in my maelstrom of emotions, he suggested.
If he jogged my memory, the cheque waiting for me, from the insurers of the driver who ran into the back of my car, admitting all responsibility and putting my car off the road for six weeks, would be mine.
All he was asking me to do was think hard about that Monday lunchtime 10 months ago and the weeks after, he explained, as if I were two sandwiches short.
I could remember it like yesterday. I had been fine, I said. Not the slightest twinge then, or in the days after; that was exactly what I told the police who attended the scene then, as did my colleague, who was in my passenger seat.
But something like that could so easily be forgotten, the very persuasive Michael went on.
Let’s go through it again, he said. Try to remember. Just a word from me and that lovely cheque would be mine, as soon as I’d trotted out my story to a solicitor, who would come on the line shortly, ready for his or her £500 cut.
His front was staggering. Audacious and a chancer, he refused to take no for an answer. I even began to doubt myself, he was so suggestible.
I let him go on to see how these whiplash calls pan out.
I soon learned how easily people can become part of the 40 pc increase in personal injury claims of the past decade. It’s easy to see that changing a story doesn’t count as a lie. Even though it was a big fat untruth. Dishonesty in its purest form.
I even began to wonder myself if I had missed any pain in the grieving process. He was smarting from his car insurance renewal, trying to reduce the £100 hike.
Usually, I’d have cut short the call, or not answer at all. But after numerous calls from the same number – along with numerous No Caller ID calls - I answered one evening out of curiosity.
It was shocking that I could feel myself going along with it, having to pull myself back, shouting at myself: “It is not true.”
He was armed with all the correct details of my accident. The other driver had admitted full responsibility, had been ordered to attend a safe driving course; his insurance company and mine had dealt with the damage to my car.
The extent of the damage might have indicated that whiplash was a likely consequence, but we were fine, apart from a bit shocked.
What really concerned me was how Michael made it all sound so above board to be £2,000 better off.
His tactics were leading me – and how many countless others|” – to perjure myself.
He even apologised for appearing to treat me as if I was stupid, but the details that I needed to relay to the solicitor coming on to the line must tally with our conversation.
I even told him I had taken down our entire conversation in shorthand because I was interested in how this compensation process worked. He wasn’t put off.
The cheque was waiting for me, he kept repeating.
I never did speak to the solicitor, despite numerous calls from them to pursue my claim. I Googled the number – other people were warning people to avoid.
Ironically, when I called my partner to tell him he was smarting from his car insurance renewal, trying to reduce the £100 hike – the hike the Association of British Insurers say is caused by people falling for Michael’s tactics.
“He was trying to get you to perjure yourself,” he said.
There are 1,500 whiplash claims a day, costing insurers £2bn a year. It gives me chills to wonder how many are fake by people happy to lie.
Michael and his ilk might be unscrupulous, encouraging dishonesty by cajoling and suggestion trying to “jog” memories, but people who are willing to lie – be knowingly dishonest – to grab what’s more than a month’s salary for many, are just as bad, if not worse.
They are the reason the average cost of motor cover has risen to a record high.
There is no physical test for whiplash, so anyone can say what they want
The government is bringing in changes to cut the number and cost of claims next year to bring down premiums.
How sad that it has to be legislation rather than people’s consciences and basic honesty to stop an unscrupulous practice that too many people by in to.
It’s dishonest, fraudulent and it stinks. Lying catches up with everyone in the end – I just hope that the system also catches up with Michael and solicitors behind his enthusiasm.