A representative of RTA solicitors said today he feels as if he has been ‘knifed in the back’ in the debate over a stalled scheme to share fraud data with insurers.
Craig Budsworth, chair of the Motor Accident Solicitors Society, told the Manchester Law Society conference that the Association of British Insurers (ABI) had written to the House of Commons inquiry on whiplash saying that claimant firms might exploit any data its members released on fraud.
Budsworth said he had worked for months with the ABI to find a way that insurers can share information with law firms about potential fraud. But in the letter, sent last August, ABI director general Otto Thoresen blamed claimants for changing their demands and putting a halt to negotiation.
Budsworth said the letter added: ‘One of the main challenges is agreeing exactly what data we can usefully share with claimant lawyers without exposing insurers to unnecessary risk, for example, it is crucial that the data we provide cannot be used to ”phish” for potential new claimants.’
Budsworth, whose group was earlier praised by the ABI for its willingness to talk, said the insurance body should write again to the transport committee to explain the truth.
'We thought we were achieving something. We didn’t put the boot into the ABI and say how they put up barriers time and again, only to be knifed in the back. They have deliberately attempted to mislead ministers about what is going on.’
ABI senior policy adviser Rob Cummings said the letter was a response to the committee’s report in July on whiplash, and that the organisation still expected to make an announcement on data sharing by the end of the year. He added: ‘This was only after claimant lawyers tried to put blame on insurers. The ABI is working out with its members how to fulfil their part of the bargain.’
Data sharing is considered an essential part of plans to reduce the cost of whiplash fraud. The justice secretary Chris Grayling recently urged insurers to share what information they have with lawyers on the other side.