Government acts to curb whiplash epidemic
Medical panels could be introduced to assess car drivers and passengers making an insurance claim for a whiplash injury following an accident.
The number of personal injury claims relating to road accidents has soared by 60 per cent since 2006, despite a 20 per cent fall in road traffic accidents and the government is to consult on a number of possible measures to curb bogus claims.
Whiplash claims, which have now reached around 1,500 a day, are estimated to add £90 to the cost of every motor insurance premium.
The consultation, being launched by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, will discuss measures to make it easier for insurers to challenge bogus claims.
The proposed medical panels would be comprised of independent medical experts and would not be connected to the claimant or to claims management companies.
Insurers may also be allowed to challenge whiplash claims up to £5,000,
in the small claims court, where they would not be liable for paying a successful claimant’s costs.
Currently claims of more than £1,000 have to be settled in the County Courts where insurance companies can face huge legal costs.
Mr Grayling said: “For too long, honest drivers have been bearing the price of a system that has been open to abuse and it is time for that to change.
“We are proposing action to support effective whiplash diagnosis by medical experts and to simplify procedures which will help bring speculative or fraudulent claims before a judge – so genuine claims can still be settled but fraudsters are left in no doubt there will be no more easy paydays.”
The proposals have been welcomed by insurance industry.
James Walton, Head of Motor and Liability at the Association of British Insurers said: “More effective diagnosis of whiplash will help genuine claimants get paid out quickly and reduce the scope for fraud, so helping to ensure that honest motorists do not end up footing the bill for the cheats through higher insurance premiums”.
However Karl Tonks, president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers said that the proposals would “cripple access to justice for vulnerable people”.
Meanwhile, AA Insurance has reported an increase in claims involving wildlife, with 112 “animal strike cases” reported in October and November this year.
A variety of animals were involved, including deer, squirrels, foxes, badgers and dogs.