Ex-Justice Secretary Straw Slams Injury Claims'racket'

Former justice secretary Jack Straw has called for tighter rules on car insurance companies who sell on customers\’ details to personal injury lawyers without their permission.

The Labour MP for Blackburn said the practice was a \’racket\’ which pushed up insurance premiums as the costs of an increasing number of claims by no-win, no-fee firms were passed on to the motorist.

Straw led an investigation into the system after being alerted by his constituents, one of whom was \”bombarded with texts and personal calls\” following a minor \”fender bender\” accident in which he suffered no injury.

London – In a bid to discover how the claims companies had obtained his constituent\’s personal details including his mobile phone number, Straw went to see two major insurers who admitted selling customers\’ details.

\”I went to see the Association of British Insurers (ABI), and senior executives of two of Britain\’s largest motor insurers,\” Straw wrote in The Times.

\”I asked them. A long pause, a look of embarrassment, then one of these executives said: \’This is the industry\’s dirty secret. It\’s we, the insurance companies, who sell on this personal information.\’

\”It is gobsmacking,\” Straw said. \”The insurers are complicit in something that is against their interests. In my view, what they are doing, in principle, is contrary to the spirit of data protection.\”

Straw said the cost of personal injury claims had doubled to £14 billion in 10 years despite a fall in the number of road accidents involving personal injury.

The number of claims management companies has doubled to 3,400 in two years, and Straw called for them to be more closely regulated and their high pressure sales techniques curbed.

He also called for a total ban on the practice of charging so-called referral fees, which can cost up to £200 to £1,000 per case.

Even police forces sold drivers\’ personal information, with Straw claiming one unnamed force made £1.3 million from the practice in 2008-09.

Motorists who suffer whiplash in an accident should be required to provide proof of serious injury, he suggested.


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