Fife Police have denied “cash for crash” profiteering by passing on details of road accident victims to claims management companies.
The force was responding to statistics published by LV Insurance which revealed that it had been paid £194,000 since 2010 for providing details to insurers after a crash.
Fife was one of three police forces in the UK to admit to giving contact details of more than 16,000 people to third parties following a freedom of information investigation.
The other two were the Metropolitan Police, which admitted it had been paid more than £5 million since 2009, and Hampshire, which said it had received £480,000 since 2010.
It is believed other forces are also obliged to disclose crash victims’ information for a fixed fee of £88, when approached by an insurance agency but they declined to provide details to LV Insurance.
Having paid the fee, firms can then text and phone motorists to put pressure on them to make compensation claims.
A spokesman for Fife police admitted the figure obtained by the investigation was correct but said it was in place to cover administration costs involved in collating details.
“Fife Constabulary makes charges in line with the rates recommended by Acpos, which are adjusted for inflation each year,’’ he said.
“There is no surplus, as the cost of providing these reports means Fife Constabulary has to employ staff to do the necessary searching, photocopying, printing and postage.
“A report on the fees charged by Fife Constabulary was provided to the police transition committee of Fife Council last October, and as this is a publicly-available document.’’
Scotland Yard accused LV of misinterpreting the data, saying it did not sell details to compensation lawyers or claims management companies.
From April 2013, the Scottish Government is to ban the payment and receipt of referral fees in personal injury cases and will cap lawyers’ fees on successful claims in a bid to reduce the cost of motor insurance.
LV Insurance managing director John O’Roarke said the pending legalisation had prompted a whiplash ‘gold rush’ with claims companies now hounding people regardless of whether they have been injured or not.
“The heavy-handed tactics of the ‘claims farming’ industry has resulted in record levels of compensation claims for whiplash and other personal injuries, despite falling accident rates,’’ he said.
“Crash victims are being aggressively targeted by those who can make money out of their details and they are literally hounding them to make a claim within moments of an accident.
“Those tempted to make a claim when they do not have an injury should think again as making a fraudulent claim could lead to a hefty fine or prison sentence.”