The coronavirus is starting to appear as an excuse for “claims behaviours” in road traffic cases, while claims farmers and law firms are eyeing up opportunities offered by the pandemic, a leading defendant firm has found.
A client briefing from Kennedys said its review of Claims Portal data found coronavirus-referenced excuses for claims behaviours in RTA claims.
As early as February, a claimant said they had been unable to get through to their GP to book an appointment for an assessment due to an increase in calls relating to coronavirus.
Another example, from last month, was a claimant saying they had been suffering with a headache but not sought medical attention due to Covid-19.
“It is easy to see Covid-19 becoming the ubiquitous excuse of the dishonest, who recognise a new and universally accepted ‘get out of jail free’ card,” Kennedys said.
“Why didn’t you see a doctor? Covid. Why was there a delay in responding? Covid. Why did it take so long to repair the vehicle? Covid. What are these extra cleaning charges? Covid.”
In February and March, the firm said, 45 companies were incorporated with names containing the words ‘corona’ or ‘Covid’.
“These appear to range from help and assistance companies, to cleaning/PPE companies, and of particular interest, what appear to be claims management companies,” it said.
These included COVID-19 Virus Compensation Ltd, Coronavirus Claims Ltd, Coronavirus Compensation Ltd, Coronavirus Legal Solutions Ltd, and Coronavirus Refunds Ltd.
“At the time of writing, Google trends shows search term interest in coronavirus compensation for the UK peaked on 16 March. We do, however, expect there to be a lag in Covid-19 related personal injury claims, which will take various forms as new areas of duty, breach and loss are explored. This may include disease claims against employers and the NHS.”
Kennedys said there were early signs of a move into social media advertising targeted at the public in relation to coronavirus-related claims.
“We have identified a number of law firms updating their websites to include specific coronavirus compensation sections, focusing on challenging insurers whose policies are not reacting to claims.
“In third-party claims, firms are also advertising in respect of employers’ liability from contracting Covid-19 due to the failure in supplying personal protective equipment, even though there is currently a worldwide shortage.”
The firm concluded: “We fully expect claims farming to continue its evolution into more types of claims. Covid-19 presents a new frontier for claims and claim behaviours. Following declining claim numbers in areas such as motor, EL and PL personal injury, Covid-19 opens new opportunities for CMCs.”