INSURANCE PREMIUM HIGH? BLAME WHIPLASH, SAYS ABI
Association of British Insurers and AA urge government to curb whiplash claims
The AA has said that the average cost of comprehensive car insurance cover has doubled in the past two years, and that the government needs to act fast to deal with the issue of spurious claims (though that still probably wouldn't make insuring a Noble M600 and an Ariel Atom V8 any cheaper...).
The ABI says that 570,000 people a year now make a claim for whiplash injuries, claims that last year cost British insurers £2bn.
"If whiplash was an Olympic sport, the UK would be gold medallists" says James Dalton, ABI's head of motor and liability. "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."
It does seem as if the government is keen to do something about this, however. Justice secretary Ken Clarke saying: "It is scandalous that we have a system where it is cheaper for insurers to settle a spurious whiplash claim out of court than defend it, creating rocketing insurance premiums for honest drivers."
It is also meeting today (Wednesday) with a group of insurance companies to discuss the possibility of pushing from £1,000 to £5,000 the limit for personal injuries claims, a move which would permit the small claims court to deal with more whiplash cases. The idea is that this would deter some fraudulent claimants from making a case, as more would have to foot the bill for legal costs.
The ABI, meanwhile suggest a more radical approach, calling for a series of measures, including 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 claimants 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 (something some countries already do).