The Association of British Insurers has urged the Government to stop 'victims' from claiming easy money by claiming they have whiplash – because claims are pushing up the average premium by a massive 20%.
Despite a fall in the number of car crashes, whiplash claims have risen by a third in the last three years. Every year 570,000 people claim for whiplash injuries. Last year these claims cost insurers over £2 billion, adding an extra £90 a year to the average annual motor premium of £440.
Speaking at an international whiplash conference in Bristol, James Dalton, ABI's Head of Motor and Liability said:
"If whiplash was an Olympic sport, the UK would be gold medallists. The fact that whiplash is virtually impossible to disprove means that for too many it has become the fraud of choice, often aided and abetted by ambulance-chasing lawyers and claims management firms".
The ABI proposals include
• A system where whiplash claimants receive no compensation for alleged pain and suffering (general damages) unless there is objective medical evidence of injury.
• Capping or reducing the level of damages for whiplash claims.
• Having a panel of independent doctors to assess whiplash claims, rather than the claimant's GP.
• Greater use of bio-mechanical evidence that might enable the introduction of a speed threshold under which there would be a presumption that whiplash has not occurred.
His ideas are certainly worth considering. The car manufacturers have spent millions (ultimately paid for by us, of course), to improve seat and headrest designs to prevent whiplash. We then pay again through our insurance policies for people who claim whiplash injuries that we have already paid to prevent.