Whiplash targeted in car costs drive

Road traffic Independent medical panels will be set up to consider whiplash insurance claims

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A package of measures aimed at bringing down motoring costs, including insurance premiums, has been announced by the government.

Ministers have pledged to crack down on the "compensation culture" on claims for whiplash injuries.

And there are plans to pilot fuel price comparison signs on major roads and freeze the cost of the MoT test.

The statutory maximum price of the MoT test for a car will be pegged at £54.85 until 2015.

Medical report

The inflated cost of fuel on major roads is among the most common complaints among drivers.

In some areas petrol and diesel can cost 10p per litre more at motorway service stations.


  • Caused by sudden movement of the head which damages the ligaments and tendons in the neck
  • Symptoms often take six to 12 hours to develop
  • Common symptoms include neck pain and stiffness, tenderness over the neck muscles and headaches
  • Usually diagnosed from a verbal description of symptoms
  • Tests and scans are not usually required
  • Whiplash usually gets better without the need for treatment, other than taking painkillers
  • One study found the average recovery time was 32 days.
  • In most cases trying to keep the neck mobile will help speed recovery
  • In around one in 10 cases, the pain can last for six months or longer

Source: NHS Choices

The government wants to install a series of price comparison signs which will show the cost of fuel at all petrol stations along any given route.

Ministers are also promising to save motorists money by tackling what they call the compensation culture.

Independent medical panels will be set up to identify exaggerated or fraudulent claims for whiplash.

Currently insurers can make an offer to claimants without a medical report.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said: "We are turning the tide on the compensation culture and helping hard-working people by tackling high insurance premiums and other motoring costs.

"It's not right that people who cheat the insurance system get away with it while forcing up the price for everyone else - so we are now going after whiplash fraudsters and will keep on driving premiums down."

Mr Grayling later told BBC Radio 5 live he wanted any cost reductions from clamping down on whiplash payouts to be used to lower drivers' premiums, rather than boost companies' profits.

'Shake off reputation'

Labour MP Louise Ellman, who chairs the Commons Transport Select Committee, said she welcomed the package of measures announced, particularly when it came to whiplash claims.

"The Transport Select Committee has looked at this over a long time and very recently we recommended that insurance companies shouldn't pay out for whiplash claims without a medical report and that those medical reports should come from independent medical practitioners," she said.

"So I'm very pleased that the government have now accepted one of our key recommendations."

GP Dr Rosemary Leonard told BBC Breakfast that the UK has a rate of whiplash that is "way higher" than the rest of Europe and "it is thought an awful lot of them are bogus".

"If you had a genuinely nasty shunt in your car and you went to your doctor and you said 'Well my neck's aching a bit,' and the doctor just said 'Well actually I don't believe you,' you would quite rightly be very annoyed.

"So as GPs we're in this position where we have to go along with what the patient says, because if we don't and it's a genuine case we could be sued."

Roads minister Robert Goodwill said: "The costs of owning and running a car are felt by millions of households and businesses across the nation. The government is determined to help keep those costs down."

Statistics from the AA show that motor insurance premiums are falling at the fastest rate since 1994 - 12.3% for an average comprehensive policy in the year to October.

James Dalton, Association of British Insurers head of motor and liability, said: "We have long called for more robust medical assessment of whiplash claimants.

"Setting up independent panels of accredited experts will help the UK shake off its reputation as the whiplash capital of Europe."

The moves have been welcomed by the Institute of Advanced Motorists, and motoring organisations the RAC and the AA.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 430.

    What the insurers don't tell you is when you have an accident they pass or sell your info to comps who consistantly phone you asking if you want to make a claim for personal injury then use it as an excuse to stitch motorists up for extra premiums!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 429.

    yet another biased report without any reference to the real experts - Claimant Solicitors. Whilst I abhor fraudulent claims they are few in percentage terms and so yet again our legal process is being manipulated by the insurance industry. This administration has taken away rights to access to justice of millions at the insurance industry's behest but sadly no one is interested; not a vote winner

  • rate this

    Comment number 428.

    This needs looking at in a wider context. Where my parents live there are no longer buses every day, and none on Sundays, so people are unable to travel to the shops or church without a car.

  • rate this

    Comment number 427.

    "In most cases trying to keep the neck mobile will help speed recovery"

    Get them to a Thrash Metal concert, a few hours of Moshing they'll be right as rain...

  • rate this

    Comment number 426.

    Petrol costs so much at motorway services because no one wants to risk running out of fuel on the motorway and have nowhere else to go.
    With regards to whiplash it shouldn't be made available to claim for unless concrete evidence can be provided that someone is injured.
    What compensation is required for a sore neck for a day?

  • rate this

    Comment number 425.

    Whilst Solicitors are obliged to provide a medical report, Insurer's know that the Expert and Solicitor have a relationship with each other a "rub my back, i'll rub yours" kind've of relationship. The Medical Report from a medical expert averages at around £450. Why waste time and momey and pay this fee when they already know what the report will say anyway?

  • rate this

    Comment number 424.

    Any savings made by restricting whiplash claims (and yes doctors say you can get whiplash at very low speeds) won't trickle down to us plebs - it'll all go to the insurance companies and their shareholders.

    Car insurance cartels should pay a windfall tax!

  • rate this

    Comment number 423.

    What the insurers don't tell you is that if you don't go through the ambulance chasers and allow the insurers to conduct their own checks you are sent to some of the most bizarre places to check your injuries out - I was sent to a GP specialising in Gynaecology and then a Consultant specialising in child deformity for a no fault head on crash with injuries to shoulder and wrist.

  • rate this

    Comment number 422.

    I would suggest that the majority of whiplash cases in car accidents are either bogus or greatly exaggerated.

    Because such injuries are notoriously difficult to disprove, a veritable industry has grown up around them with the sole object of enriching lawyers, claims management companies, and medical practitioners at the expense of insurance companies.

    Such people can afford inflated premiums...

  • rate this

    Comment number 421.

    to set the record straight

    solcitiors on average receive £600 inv vat for starting the claiming, obtaining medical evidence , reviewing evidence, valuing the claim and then settling the claim

    ALL solicitors are required to obtain a medical report before settling a case, it is the insurance companies who make offers without medical reports not solicitors.

  • rate this

    Comment number 420.

    Referral fees were banned in April anyway...


    It'll filter through eventually if this was the cause of all the whiplash claims...

  • rate this

    Comment number 419.

    I had damage only accident few weeks back. The only calls that I have received to date ( 5 in total) from by brokers is them asking me if "Im sure" that I have not received any injury such as whiplash. They seem more interested in making quick money instead of dealing with the damage caused to my car.
    No wonder our premiums go up each year due to false claims being encouraged by the brokers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 418.

    Scrap compensation. Personal injury is the spawn of money grabbing lawyers targeting peoples greed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 417.

    The lowest threshold at which an insurance company decides to pay out needs more scrutiny. The ambulance chasing lawyers tell you that you are entitled to money reserved for you already, when really they know that the insurer won't go to court if the value of the claim is below a preset threshold, providing they prove intent to follow it through in court. How long before camera's, like in Russia?

  • rate this

    Comment number 416.

    On TV today it was said that £90 of each policy does to paying for whiplash. As mine is £109, will it reduce to £19 if this gets resolved? Thought not!
    Making costs fairer: Why not scrap Road Fund Licence & put the cost onto petrol? Gas guzzler owners will pay more, big users pay more & small users pay less. (I'd pay more) Seems a "no brainer." Could be expanded to include 3rd. party insurance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 415.

    fit all cars with cameras and black box this should prove who is at fault and what speed and impact was involved

  • rate this

    Comment number 414.

    The UK needs to stop all personal injury claims since they are too prone to abuse. Whiplash, tripping over paving and stress are good examples of where businesses, insurance firms and ultimately the public are getting ripped off.

  • rate this

    Comment number 413.

    409 Nothingoriginal:
    The reason diesel is dearer here is that we don't make enough and have to import it. We set our refineries' production to produce vastly more petrol than diesel when we used those fuels in that proportion, and haven't changed it. Would guess the fuel companies like it that way . . . wonder why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 412.

    There are two things which are as equally expensive as personal injury awards not addressed in this story 1) Legal Costs 2) Forward Car Hire costs (not paid at time of hire and recovered from the at fault drivers insurers).
    Each one of these can costs can dwarf awards paid out for personal injuries such as Whiplash.
    In 90% of cases all three could be avoided and car insurance costs slashed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 411.

    How about reducing the pain involved in getting a tax disc? I bought a car today and it's currently SORN. I can't tax it without valid insurance. I can't insure it without either getting an entire new policy or taking my current old car off the policy. THEN I'd have to wait for the certificate to come through the post first and/or wait for the new V5C too. My current car's MOT expires in a week.


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