So called 'crash for cash' frauds are a blight not only on the motor insurance industry but also on honest drivers. The High Court made that point as it meted out stiff punishments to nine people who made dishonest compensation claims following alleged road accidents that never even happened.
The nine, six of them members of the same family, sought thousands of pounds in damages for whiplash injuries, damage to vehicles and replacement car hire charges following three alleged accidents. However, the insurance company against which all the claims were made became suspicious and investigated.
Inquiries revealed striking similarities between two of the accidents: they were both alleged to have occurred in the same area and the drivers who were said to be responsible, but could not be traced, were each described as Eastern European cleaners. The accidents occurred shortly after policies were taken out, and before any premiums were paid. There was also the fact that six members of the same extended family were said to have been injured in the space of about five weeks.
Other almost identical claims had been lodged against the same insurers in respect of three other accidents during the same period, and any suggestion that this was a mere coincidence was to stretch credulity to breaking point. The Court was entirely satisfied that none of the accidents occurred and that all nine of those involved had lied in sworn statements, made in pursuit of compensation.
Ruling on the insurance company's application to have the nine committed to prison for contempt, the Court noted that none of them had admitted their guilt but had chosen instead to tell more lies. The civil justice system is seriously undermined by fraudulent claims and such behaviour is estimated to add £44 a year to the price of every motorist's insurance policy.
Four of the nine were sentenced to terms of imprisonment ranging from four to 16 months. The other five, who were less seriously involved, received suspended four-month sentences. Each of the nine was ordered to contribute £9,000 to the legal costs of the case.