Hang up! UK wants nuisance calls ban

2.2 billion a year. 6 million a day. 4,200 a minute.

An Aviva customer's experience of being targeted with nuisance calls:

"My husband recently passed away after a long battle with cancer. Before he died, his car was hit by someone whilst parked. No-one was in the car so there were no injuries. The car was repaired and then sold after he died.

"I have received so many calls about the incident involving his car. Those responsible for the passing of this data should hang their heads in shame. Can you begin to imagine the distress I have encountered from at least 40 - 50 phone calls when I answer the phone to somebody asking to speak to him about pursuing a claim for injuries?"

This is the upsetting experience of one of our customers who was plagued by nuisance callers trying to get her to make an injury claim after an accident involving her husband’s car – even though no-one was in it at the time of the crash. 

Her experience with nuisance callers is hardly unique. Anyone with a phone will be familiar with these intrusive calls and texts. Our reaction ranges from mild annoyance to genuine anxiety and everywhere in between.

My name is Andrew Morrish, and I am the Claims Director at Aviva. We’ve had a lot of feedback from our customers who are concerned – angry, even – about the prevalence of nuisance calls. 

That’s one of the reasons Aviva has long supported a ban on cold calls such as those offering compensation “for the accident you were involved in” – regardless of whether you even were in an accident.

We recently looked at Ofcom data to get an idea of the scale of nuisance calls. The results were staggering. 

Last year alone, UK consumers were bombarded with 2.2 billion nuisance calls and texts relating to an injury-related claim, pension, PPI or other insurance related matter. This translates to more than 6 million nuisance calls and texts every day, or 4,200 calls and texts every minute. 

We’ve all had them: a call or text telling you there is a sum of money just waiting for you to claim due to the accident you’ve had, or the PPI you were sold, or even the ‘sickness’ you may have experienced on holiday. Wherever there’s blame, as the saying goes, there’s a claim. 

Claims management companies (CMCs) are frequently behind these calls. What’s in it for them? Quite simply: money. For a typical whiplash claim of £2,500, the CMC handling the claim can take up to 40% of the compensation awarded. Those who are legitimately injured may feel this adds insult to injury. 

Ask any CMC and they’ll tell you: claiming is easy. There’s a lot of ‘easy money’ available. No wonder there are so many nuisance calls and texts. But this compensation culture has an inevitable cost. It’s one of the reasons why UK motor insurance premiums are at record levels.

What can be done? 

Nuisance calls are a national epidemic which must be stopped – there should be no place in our society for them. 

The good news is that MPs are set to debate a bill called the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill, which could result in a ban on unsolicited calls. 

According to the current draft of this new legislation, the guidance body will consider the impact of cold-calling on consumers and can recommend a ban on cold calls to the Secretary of State, who will have the power to introduce such a ban. 

Aviva is urging the UK government to put a swift end to all insurance and finance-related cold calls. Consumers overwhelmingly agree – we conducted a survey of more than 2,000 adults and found that 85% of them would support a ban on all nuisance calls.

Enough is enough. It’s time to hang up on the nuisance callers for good. 

If you have been harassed by cold callers, we recommend you register with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) – a free service which allows consumers to opt out of unsolicited sales and marketing calls. 


Erik Nelson - erik.nelson@aviva.com.