Crackdown on exaggerated whiplash claims


Louise Knowles had to pay out on whiplash claims she says wasn't genuine
Image caption Louise Knowles had to pay out on whiplash claims she says wasn't genuine

It's going to get tougher to try and get cash for whiplash if you're involved in a car accident.

Fake or exaggerated claims add £90 to everyone's car insurance policy say the Association of British Insurers so the government is planning tough new rules.

Louise Knowles, 27, from Manchester had a car accident two years ago.

"I went into the back of a woman. The road was covered in black ice and I was doing about 15mph, if that, but I couldn't stop in time to avoid her.

"She was fine after the accident. She got out of the car and walked around, bent down and took pictures.

"There was hardly any damage to her car."

Louise thought it was the end of the matter but a couple of months later, she got a letter from her insurance company.

"The woman managed to claim £8,000 off me for 'severe whiplash'."

'Fake claims'

"Because of that accident and because she'd claimed so much, my insurance went up another £100 per month on top of what I was paying before the accident. I was devastated."

The Association of British Insurers believes most whiplash claims are fake. Malcolm Tarling is their spokesman.


"It's almost the fraud of choice for too many people. There's something like 1,500 claims being made for whiplash. While some are genuine, we think many are fraudulent."

It's thought whiplash claims cost around £90 on every car insurance policy. Insurers say too many claims are settled out of court because it's cheaper.

"The problem is it's very difficult to establish whether you have whiplash injuries.

"That's not been lost on fraudsters or claims management firms who encourage people to claim."

Difficult to diagnose?

Doctor Nicholas Padfield is a consultant in pain medicine and anesthesia at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Trust.

"We come across a lot of bad actors because their story doesn't always add up. If you have a supremely great actor, you can be taken in because the trouble with whiplash is it's difficult to diagnose."

It's unfair on genuine sufferers and other drivers. It's easy money if you haven't got a conscience
Louise Knowles

"I think it's tough because the buck seems to stop with doctors."

For people like Jason Williams, who contacted Newsbeat, the whole issue of fraudulent claims is frustrating.

"I got hit from behind while stationary. As a direct result of that whiplash injury I have now had two major spinal surgeries on my neck, with a cage implant.

"All that for two grand. Not everyone is a cheat, some of us are genuine."

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