Allianz Cornhill, a leading insurer, cited legal bills are the reason they are moving their routine whiplash claims investigations in house, saving the company an estimated £25m annually. The company plans on training employees to specialize in these cases and thus remove the need for external legal counsel. The company has been testing two pilot programmes in Leeds and Milton Keyes since June.
This program will be one of two the company will introduce on 30 January in an effort to eliminate unneeded legal costs and detect claims fraud. Bob Robbits, the Technical Claims Manager at Allianz said, “We will guarantee that the customer receives the same level of compensation but by handling it ourselves, we can substantially reduce associated legal costs by £1m a year.
Valid claims will be handled directly by the company, allowing the customer access to a medical examination and medical reports. However, at any time during the process, the client is allowed to seek a private assessment and legal advice and the legal costs will be covered as part of the claim.”
The company also plans on identifying and taking on fraudulent claimants by training processors to investigate whiplash claims where speed of the vehicle involved was a factor, Rabbits stated, adding that “”Claims will be measured against fraud indicators and investigated by our claims handlers. Claims that fail will be dismissed and where the company believes the policyholder is a credible witness, defended in court.”
Allianz Cornhill said that they had identified about 10% of all whiplash claims as being fraudulent due to the success of the two pilot programmes.
Whiplash is defined as an injury to the neck or spine that is the result of sudden and violent forward/backward direction changes, or rapid starts and stops. Headrests were added to autos to help prevent this injury from happening. The Quebec Task Force on Whiplash-Associated Disorders defined whiplash as follows: The consequences of whiplash range from mild pain for a few days, to severe disability caused by restricted head movement and persistent pain. Treatment for whiplash can be simple, such as rest, somewhat complex, such as having to wear a neck brace, or severe, such in the cases that require some types of surgery.
It is Allianz Corhill’s hope that not only will internalizing the processing and investigation of whiplash claims reduce legal costs it also hopes that their actions will make people think twice about filing fraudulent claims.