Car insurance: MPs to investigate impact of whiplash claims

Car accident Whiplash accounts for an estimated 70% of road accident personal injury claims

Related Stories

MPs are to investigate the extent to which claims for whiplash injuries are pushing up the cost of car insurance.

The Commons Transport Committee said it wanted to examine suggestions that rising payouts meant the UK was now the "whiplash capital of the world".

It will look at the impact fabricated and exaggerated claims have on premiums and what can be done about them.

Ministers say action is needed to curb the 60% increase in road-related personal injury claims since 2006.

Whiplash is characterised by the NHS as a neck injury caused by a sudden movement of the head forwards, backwards or sideways.

Claims for such injuries have soared in recent years despite improvements in vehicle safety and a sharp reduction in the number of reported accidents involving personal injury.

The cross-party committee has already held two inquiries into the rising cost of car insurance in the past three years.

But now it plans to focus specifically on claims for whiplash injuries - of which there were more than half a million last year - and how they affect what drivers are paying for insurance.


Insurers say there has been an "epidemic" of claims - with 1,500 made every day - and their £2bn annual cost is adding £90 to the average premium.

Start Quote

Whiplash is notoriously difficult to diagnose, which means that for too many people it has become the fraud of choice”

End Quote James Dalton Association of British Insurers

In a consultation document published in December, the Ministry of Justice set out ideas for action, including creating new medical panels to improve diagnosis of whiplash injuries and allowing more cases to be challenged in the small claims court.

The committee wants to know whether the government's proposals will reduce the cost of premiums and what proportion of the £90 figure is attributable to inaccurate or fraudulent claims.

It will also study the likely impact of the proposals on genuine claimants and what else can be done to bring down premiums.

Louise Ellman, the Labour MP who chairs the committee, said the issue was "difficult", but she and her colleagues wanted to weigh up all the arguments about the best way forward.

"It is vitally important for policymakers to understand the reasons for the very high cost of motor insurance, especially for young drivers and to take steps to bring that cost down," she added.

"Whiplash claims undoubtedly play a part in driving up the cost of motor insurance but access to justice for injured people must be preserved."

'Fraud of choice'

Former Justice Secretary Jack Straw has mounted a high-profile campaign against what he says is the large increase in dubious whiplash claims, tabling a private member's bill in 2011 urging reform of motor insurance.

The Association of British Insurers has called for whiplash injuries to be assessed by an accredited medical expert, trained in the latest diagnostic techniques and able to take into account the circumstances of the collision rather than the claimant's reported symptoms.

Start Quote

We continue to work with young people, the insurance industry, and other key partners in addressing this important issue”

End Quote Stephen Hammond Roads minister

It also says a set level of damages should be prescribed for whiplash claims and any exaggerated claim should be thrown out entirely.

"Insurers want to make it simpler and quicker for genuine whiplash claimants to get fair compensation," says the body's assistant director of motor and liability James Dalton.

"But whiplash is notoriously difficult to diagnose, which means that for too many people it has become the fraud of choice."

The government said it had taken action to help bring down insurance premiums by banning referral fees, reforming no win no fee rules and cracking down on fraudulent whiplash claims.

"In addition, we are considering several options to ensure that newly qualified drivers are properly prepared and drive safely, allowing insurers to reduce premiums for this age group," Roads Minister Stephen Hammond said.

"We continue to work with young people, the insurance industry, and other key partners in addressing this important issue."


More on This Story

Related Stories


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    To all those claiming whiplash after a 5 mile an hour shunt... Make sure you never go to Alton Towers...

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    About time this was dealt with. I want proper compensation for people who suffer an injury, however this whiplash business is well known as a dishonest gravy train, and one that means people in genuine need may end up left with no help.

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    There are 3 components to this
    1. Claim firms who make money from running the claim
    2. Private Doctors who make there money from fees
    3. insurance industry who will only pay a minimum for injuries if you try to claim yourself
    All 3 are looking at profits at the end of the day
    not one of them thinks about the premiums that will have to go up

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    Whenever government is doing something for my benefit, I get nervous. Like everything else government feels the need to "look into", or "regulate", expect the costs of insurance premiums to go up :(

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    When our car was vandalised (we only had it 1 week) we duly claimed and it was repaired. Then the endless phone calls started, the ambulance chasing solicitors saying we were entitled to compensation as we had been hurt in the accident. As there was no accident we couldn't claim but still the calls kept coming. As we are ex-d, who gave our to these people, do the police do it,I don't know

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    MPs looking at whiplash, reminds me of Lindi St Clair!

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    I had another driver hit my headlight and smashed the glass and a little bent metal around it, no other damage. It was their fault claimed I had driven into them. The 2 occupants claimed wiplash, but agreed on a very low amount each. They should only pay out for debilitating wiplash. Surely they must be able to do some medical tests for it now that don't involve the persons feedback on pain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    Glad the MPs looking at this but don't expect answers soon. Stopping solicitors advertising, and cold calling should also be part of remit... Plus investigation into breaches of Data Protection by A&E departments passing on info to ambulance chasers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    go figure
    35 Minutes ago

    What I cannot figure out is how it is mandetory for drivers to hand over their hard earned cash to the legalised protection racket....
    let me explain then. Insurance, first and foremost is not for you, it is for others whom you may have an accident with. Fully comp is not obligatory, the minimum insurance is third party - the clue is in the name.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    After a recent accident whilst stationary, a motorbike collided into the rear of our car.We thankfully were uninjured and not at fault but after the claim we were constantly inundated with insurance call scams asking to claim further for injuries we never received. Refusing a total of 40 calls.I find this unacceptable for I know it is the insurance companies driving our policies up with this scam.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    My advice to rubbish drivers who hurt people by driving into the back of them, is to go onto BBC HYS and claim that all whiplash claims are fraudulent. This way you'll be able to divert attention away from your own incompetence and blame everyone else as usual

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    What would people prefer.

    No CFAs allowed so that people fund their own litigation up front thus only allowing those with twenty grand on the hip to claim?

    No costs orders against losing defendants?

    No compulsory insurance on the roads?

    No personal injury claims in the UK courts?

    It's all very well pointing out what's wrong, how about some suggestion of how to improve things.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    7 Minutes ago
    MPs will debate - and if recent history shows us anything - will come to the conclusion that a Whiplash Tax sounds like a good idea !!
    I doubt it ... there'd be a lot of old men in The Lords running scared of that one, methinks!

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    Typical mp's, wanting compensation following the whip.

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    If tobacco and alcohol advertistments are banned on TV ... how come all the no-win-no-fee adverts are still allowed?
    These encourage people to make a claim regardless of the facts as you have nothing to loose.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    Who started this culture - the insurers by making Solicitors pay for claims, prior to this there was no mass cost, in any event the costs that can be claimed have now been slashed so that should satisfy those who call us parasites! yes I am a PI Solicitor and act for many seriously injured people along with those with whiplash. Why should a person caused injury by another be refused compensation?

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    14. Upbeat
    Many claimants today obviously have no understanding of consequences of traumatic whiplash. Due to fraudulent claims those who are seriously injured never receive adequate compensation. But lawyers took 50% of the final payout.
    Yep- independent licensed doctors, a second opinion, small claims process and no "lawyers" at all would solve it, and stop dilution for those in genuine pain

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    WHat would help is no win no fee claims lawyers eing obliged, both when face to face AND when advertising across ANY medium, to point out that if you tripped over your own two feet in a well lit area without any trip hazards the accident was YOUR FAULT, not that of the person/company who owns the space.......

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    Whiplash is horrible. I had it after a car I was in was hit at a junction and the driver behind hit us. I had whiplash and my spine was damaged leaving me with scoliosis and sciatica. That was 20 years ago. Medical care has been sketchy at best I still have pain and the damage is here to stay.His insurers paid out £1,500 in damages .Looking back at the lifelong pain I now have, it wasnt enough.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    MPs will debate - and if recent history shows us anything - will come to the conclusion that a Whiplash Tax sounds like a good idea !!


Page 7 of 10


More Politics stories



Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.