The morally bankrupt insurance industry
When I was a teenager, my mum had a minor car accident. (She also had a rather major one in which she smacked her head into her windscreen, arriving in an ambulance at my friend’s house where I was playing, blood streaming down her face. But that’s a different story.)
If memory serves me, the accident occurred near the junction of Rhodesway and Allerton Road in the Thornton area of Bradford. There was a small shunt, details were exchanged and the two cars involved went merrily on their way.
In the bureaucratic process that followed, a claim was made by the third party for injuries allegedly sustained by more people than were occupying his car at the time of the accident. With no witnesses, it was my mum’s word against his, and I believe his claim was upheld.
Last year, my friend Steve was also involved in an accident. There was heavy braking on the motorway in front of his car. Steve braked in time to stop behind the car ahead of him. The car behind him followed suit. But the car behind that car couldn’t stop in time. So it shunted the car behind Steve, which in turn was pushed forward, and nudged Steve’s rear bumper.
There was some very minor paint damage, but nothing worth worrying over. Steve duly informed his insurance company, not to claim but out of a worry of getting proverbially shafted if they found out about the accident at a later date. And nothing more was said.
Actually, that last sentence isn’t quite true.
The insurance company asked whether he or his two kids that were in the back seat had been injured. He confirmed that they hadn’t, informing the lady on the phone that the impact had been at such an infinitesimally low velocity that they were barely even aware of the impact.
Not one to trust the laws of physics, she badgered Steve throughout the call about the possibility of injury to any one, nay all, of the three occupants, suggesting that the symptoms might set in a few days after the event. By the end of the call, Steve was perplexed by the seeming idiocy of the woman.
You see, the insurance world is in a downward moral spiral, and has been for the last 20 years and more. Individuals are more litigious than they ever were, partly because of the rise of the large company (more on that another time). And insurance companies like to play the game. As well as figuratively raping people for their insurance premiums, they make money at the time of a claim by selling the data of those allegedly affected by the accident to morally bankrupt companies. They in turn will do their level best to lodge a falsified claim, winning money for their client and sending the insurance premiums of the third party through the roof. Everyone’s a winner!
Steve has morals, and so didn’t let the promise of cash affect his better judgment. Thousands of others will be either less morally scrupulous or more in need of a cash injection (or both), and will take the evil lady up on her kind of gaining cash for fake injuries.
The government is trying to tighten up on the passing on of such data by insurance companies. But I expect that the behaviour has now been seeded in the market, and such legislation will pass the onus on to the consumer, who will gladly take responsibility for pursuing their own nefarious claims.