Car insurance: MPs to investigate impact of whiplash claims

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

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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.

'Epidemic'

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."

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 195.

    How about doing something about the. invariably foreign, gangs carrying out 'cash for cash' scams?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 194.

    Part of the solution is to ban insurance companies charging lawyers for accident information - I think this is already being done and will stop a lot of the ambulance chasers.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 193.

    I cannot locate it, but some years ago the "Journal of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh" had a very informative review article on this subject. The gist of it was this - that in countries that have motor traffic but not a well-developed legal industry, whiplash injuries happen but cause NO lasting problems, and therefore some administrations do not allow claims for whiplash injury....

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 192.

    Does any one really think whiplash pay-outs has anything to do with high premiums? Of course not. Insurance companies are blood suckers just like the injury lawyers. Nothing will change, the motorist will always pay.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 191.

    @187patbenatar

    I read the article and I am shocked.

    Iain Duncan Smith has made such a shambles of DWP legislation that he has now managed to change the law retrospectively to stop people making lawful claims against him.

    Retrospective laws being rushed through parliament, and get this, being fully supported by Labour.

    Not even aware that the law could be changed retrospectively so god help us.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 190.

    Came home this evening to find in the mail a claim from a taxi driver for whiplash and soft tissue injuries after a 5 mph collision that only scuffed the paint and did less than 100 of damage to both vehicles but apparently justifies over 1,000 in compensation and my insurance company refuses to fight it.

    Will the government actually do anything to protect honest motorists? Fat chance!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 189.

    All insurance claims should be decided by insurance company panels in direct communication with each other.

    When, and why did solicitors become involved in what is usually a very clear cut accident scenario?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 188.

    My daughter had a guy run into her car when it was parked + she wasn't in it. we have been inundated with claims companies trying to get her to say she got an injury!!!! even when they are told she wasn't in the car as it was parked they simply say ' that doesn't matter, just say you had an injury'. fraud or what. this must stop.

  • Comment number 187.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 186.

    This scam should have been stopped years ago. Commercial companies and lawyers acting like criminals. Disgusting.

  • Comment number 185.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 184.

    Once again the implication is that victims of accidents are driving up insurance premiums. A simple exercise would entail comparing the amount awarded to claimants with the total costs (legal, medical, court etc..) of the claim. Perhaps then we would have an accurate picture of where responsibility lies for the costs and subsequent impact on premiums.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 183.

    Swing Lowe

    'In the case of over zealous lawyers acting in their own interest rather than their clients they should be banned and imprisoned, it is simply evil & they know it!'

    Lawyers are reptiles. Totally amoral. Not interested in right or wrong. They don't care if they win or lose as long as they get paid.

    A bit like professional footballers really.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 182.

    I received an 'international' call 2 hours ago. The foreign sounding gentleman said his business was about claims and had I had an accident in the last 3 years? I haven't and said so, ending the call by saying that if I had, I would't use his services!

    He might be 'genuine' but I suspect a scam.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 181.

    I thought that head rests, if adjusted correctly, were designed to prevent such injuries. It's odd that they seem to work in other countries, I wonder what UK drivers are doing wrong.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 180.

    There should be a limit of actual pecuniary loss plus or minus 10% to whiplash or any other personal injury claims.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 179.

    In the end they are going to have to exclude whiplash from compensation claims and people are going to have to ensure themselves against the possibility of getting whiplash if they don't want to bear that risk. Whiplash can't reasonably be counted in compensation because it is unverifiable. The present system relies on most people being somewhat honest, ergo it is is fatally flawed,

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 178.

    I think all that is needed is to increase premiums for personal injury claimants in the same way as my premiums are increased for other loss/theft claims, or for speeding fines etc.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 177.

    One person's insurance claim is another person's insurance premium.

    The only way to ensure you are a winner is buy shares in insurance companies.

    Money is just a man made construct. Promises, promises.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 176.

    There's tins of peas sitting on supermarket shelves, that have a greater insight into this subject than M.P's

 

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