Unfortunately, we’ve seen too many scammers prey on Queenslanders when they are at their most vulnerable. If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident (or even if you haven’t), you may become a target of one of these scammers, as they try to pressure you into filing a Compulsory Third Party (CTP) claim.
Claim farmers will then cold-call you or message you over text or social media, suggesting that you may be entitled to claim damages, in an effort to pressure or entice you into making a compensation claim. If you agree, the claim farmer will then sell your referral to a law firm.
The Queensland Government is working hard at stamping out this predatory practice and has made it illegal for lawyers to engage in claim farming practices. But what exactly is claim farming and how do you protect yourself?
The best way to protect yourself is by understanding how these scammers work and to look out for tell-tale signs of a scam.
What is claim farming?
Claim farming is a process when a third party (the claim farmer) gets in contact with you without your consent and tries to convince you into making a compensation claim. The claim farmer will then sell this “lead” (your potential claim) to a law firm.
Since December of 2019, claim farming has been made illegal, as part of the Motor Accident Insurance and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019.
This bill aims to stamp out the practice of claim farming through two major reforms:
- Firstly, prohibiting cold calling or approaching someone without their consent in an attempt to induce them to make a CTP claim.
- Secondly, making it an offence for any person to pay claim farmers for information on potential claimants.
What is a CTP claim?
A Compulsory Third Party (CTP) claim is made against the at-fault driver in a motor vehicle accident to compensate for any loss caused by the injuries. These claims could be made against the at-fault driver by other not at-fault drivers, passengers, cyclists or even pedestrians — essentially anyone injured in the accident.
A CTP claim is made against the at-fault driver’s insurer. CTP insurance is mandatory for all drivers across Australia; however, different states vary in their legislation.
In Queensland, you are required to have CTP before you register your car. Queenslanders have the right to shop around and choose their own CTP provider – whereas in other states, it is included in their registration.
Essentially, CTP protects the at-fault driver from being financially responsible if they, through their driving, cause an accident and thereby injure someone else in that motor vehicle accident. On the flip side, it provides adequate financial compensation, treatment and rehabilitation to the person injured in the motor vehicle accident via a CTP compensation claim.
How do claim farmers access my details?
Claim farmers may access your details through several now–illegal means. For example, claim farmers may get your information through:
- Tow truck drivers
- Social media accounts
- Accident replacement vehicle, or right to drive, providers
- Cold calling and pretending to be the Motor Accident Insurance Commission (MAIC).
How do I know if I am dealing with a claim farmer?
There are a few red flags to look out for when it comes to claim farmers. If you have recently been in a car crash, especially, you should be wary of claim farmers.
Here are some tell-tale signs you are dealing with a claim farmer:
- You receive a cold call after a recent motor vehicle accident, or where you haven’t been involved in an accident at all.
- The caller may pretend to represent the MAIC, or other government or insurance entities.
- They will look to pressure you into filing a claim, either by harassing you or through persuasive language.
- The caller may claim you’re entitled to a bigger payout than you expected – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- You search the caller’s number yourself and it does not appear to be from where they claim.
- The caller may try to pressure you into filing a claim immediately by saying it is time-sensitive.
What should I do if I think I am dealing with a claim farmer?
If you feel you are dealing with a car crash scammer, the Motor Accident Insurance Commission’s advice is to ‘just hang up’ and report the scam. They key is to cease all communications with them and report them to the relevant body.
Alternatively, if you feel you have already fallen victim to a car crash scam, call MAIC on 1800 287 753 or email email@example.com.
Finally, if you want to find out more about making legitimate CTP claims, you can get in contact with us by calling (07) 3152 4011 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Claim Farmer Case Study – Car Hire
Mark was recently involved in a motor vehicle accident. While he was not physically injured, his car was damaged and needed repairs. While his car was being repaired, he approached an Accident Replacement Vehicle company.
These companies provide hire cars to the not at-fault driver and then charge the at-fault driver to cover the cost.
After the replacement car was organised, Mark began to receive calls from someone claiming to be a law firm and encouraging him to make a CTP claim. Because Mark was not physically hurt in the accident, he said he was not interested.
Despite this, Mark continually received calls encouraging him to make a claim. The calls became so incessant, they were borderline harassment.
Mark was unsure how to deal with the calls so got in touch with his lawyer. His lawyer then got in contact with the Accident Replacement Vehicle company. The car hire company’s defence was that Mark agreed to have his information shared for promotional messaging.
Mark’s lawyer reminded the car hire company of the new legislation. Mark then reported the incident to the Motor Accident Insurance Commission.
Why should I care about claim farming?
Claim farmers and other car crash scammers rort our CTP insurance system. Moreover, this system protects vulnerable Queenslanders, both at-fault and not at-fault. Additionally, increases in the number of CTP claims via these dodgy claims could result in the Government increasing the CTP insurance premium attached to our vehicle registration costs. This would result in a domino effect, raising the price of other vehicle-related expenses.
Ultimately, claim farming is illegal. It not only takes advantage of the CTP system but also preys victims of car accidents.