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Association of British Insurers (ABI) demands medical checks for whiplash claims

The ABI wants whiplash injuries to be checked by an accredited medical expert, under new proposals revealed today.

The insurer trade body said 1,500 people claim whiplash injury every day.

Recent figures from the Ministry of Justice's December consultation paper said that 70% of UK road accident personal injury claims are for whiplash.

This compares to 47% in Germany, 32% in Spain and 3% in France.

The ABI is proposing:

  • That medical assessment of whiplash claims would be carried out by an accredited medical expert. They would need to show their financial independence from claimant solicitors, take into account the circumstances of the collision rather than the claimant's reported symptoms, and undergo training in latest diagnosis techniques. Accreditation would be carried out by a board made up of government, judiciary, claimant interest groups, compensators and medical experts. The board would develop the accreditation process and standardised whiplash medical reports, and arrange for the claimant to be examined. 
  • The small claims track threshold would rise from £1,000 to £5,000 for all road traffic personal injury claims. This is a simple, speedy and cost-effective way of settling smaller claims. 
  • A laid down prescribed level of damage awards for whiplash, at a level set independently. 
  • Any claimant whose whiplash claim is in part exaggerated or made up should automatically have their entire claim dismissed.

 

ABI assistant director of motor and liability James Dalton said: "We believe our proposals offer the best cure for the UK's whiplash epidemic. Insurers want to make it simpler and quicker for genuine whiplash claimants to get fair compensation. But whiplash is notoriously difficult to diagnose, which means that for too many people it has become the fraud of choice. 

"Our proposals will ensure better medical assessment of whiplash claims, offer a quick, simple way of paying genuine claims; provide certainty for claimants and compensators, and deter fraud that ends up being paid for through higher motor insurance premiums."

LV= managing director John O'Roarke welcomed a recent decision by the transport select committee to launch an inquiry into whiplash claims.

Research by the insurer last month revealed that, on average, 49% of whiplash payouts goes to solicitors.

The insurer's results also revealed that 24% of whiplash claimants would never have claimed if they hadn't been pressured by a third party, and 87% of GPs say they have seen patients who they thought had entirely fabricated an injury.

O'Roarke said: "Despite falling accident rates, insurers now receive twice as many claims for whiplash as they did 10 years ago and it is ridiculous to assert that these cases are all genuine. 

"Crash victims are under increasing pressure to make a compensation claim, whether they have been injured or not. Those involved in a road traffic accident are being contacted within hours of a crash and even in the hospitals where they are receiving care, with some victims being contacted up to 350 times. The system is out of control and needs to be radically overhauled. the Transport Select Committee's investigation is long overdue."

 

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Registered office: Oakes House, Derby Road, Long Eaton, Nottingham NG10 1PD