It’s been revealed that the police in Britain are profiting from car accidents by openly charging garages and breakdown companies in exchange for tip-offs.
When a car cannot be driven away after an accident, the police call a local garage and asks them to come and removal the vehicle. For the information, the force charges up to £25 (28 euros) per car, the Daily Mail reports.
The revelation comes amid concerns that insurance companies sell their customers’ details after an accident to law firms for fees up to £1000 (1,120 euros) per individual, according to the newspaper. Accident victims get contacted by ‘no win, no fee’ lawyers and encouraged to file claims for compensation, sometimes resulting in pay-offs worth thousands of pounds. The lawyers offered motorists to “pursue compensation claims for often non-existent injuries”, says the newspaper.
The Mail said some 80 percent of the claims were for ‘whiplash’, a neck injury that is undetectable by scans. The payouts result in increases of insurance premiums, the Mail said, so motorists are footing the eventual bill.
The number of road accidents resulting in injury has fallen by nearly a third since the end of the 1990s. However, the cost of personal injury claims has doubled to £14 billion (15.6 billion euros) within the last ten years. Motor insurance premiums have shot up by 30 percent in the last 12 months. Former Justice Secretary Jack Straw says he wants the practice banned and claims some insurers have admitted the ‘referral’ fees are the industry’s “dirty little secret.”
The police say the referral money is to cover ‘admin’ fees, according to the Mail, which questions that claim as some police forces decide to offer no charge while others do. One force, West Midlands Police, earned an estimated £622,275 (695,000 euros) from tip-off payments for referring 24,891 vehicles in a one-year period. police say this practice is legal because the information they pass on to garages and recovery companies goes no further.
Insurer swiftcover.com compiled the evidence using Freedom of Information requests. They spoke to nine forces, out of which only two said they didn’t charge.
By Ali Sheikholeslami