Finance giant Aviva is calling for a change in the law to force personal injury claims solicitors to declare where they obtain their leads in a move which the company insists will halt the black market for car accident data.
So called “data farming” operations, which illegally obtain personal data and then sell it on to personal injury claims companies, have been a major concern for years.
In June, the Information Commissioner’s Office raided two addresses in Liverpool as part of a long-running investigation and there have been numerous criminal prosecutions against individuals who have stolen data and then sold it on to claims firms.
Now, the insurance giant – which has long called for all cold calling for financial services to be outlawed – suggests the ban on solicitors paying referral fees for claims is not working.
The ban was introduced by the Legal Aid, Sentencing & Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) and came into effect in April 2013.
However, when asked to declare the source of their leads when submitting a claim, lawyers still have the option of “prefer not to say”. This defeats the object of the referral fee ban, Aviva maintains.
Aviva UK general insurance claims director Andrew Morrish said: “Transparency and trust must be at the heart of the claims process, and this starts at the very beginning. Our proposal of one simple action – that solicitors declare the introducer of their claims lead – would prevent them from either knowingly or unknowingly using leads which have been obtained without consent.”
The firm believes the extra regulation could be built into the Ministry of Justice’s new IT portal for road traffic accident claims under £5,000, with monitoring and compliance overseen by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
Aviva cites its own research, based on a survey of 2,000 adults in September 2019, which shows 70% of British people had received a nuisance call or text in the previous week, with more than a third of those people saying this was a daily occurrence.
In the vast majority of cases, Aviva claims, recipients of cold calls have not given legal consent to be contacted.
Morrish added: “It is frankly shocking that the claims sector can blatantly and consistently break the law by not securing the necessary consumer consent before contacting [consumers] about an injury claim or other issue.
“Claims management companies and so-called lead generators are making a mockery of the current regulation and legislation designed to protect consumers.”
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