New Measures Rolled Out To Prevent Fraudulent Whiplash Injury Claims
28th October 2013
The battle against whiplash compensation claims has taken another turn, with Justice Minister Chris Grayling unveiling a series of measures that could make it harder for people to claim for personal injuries in road traffic accident claims.
Fraudulent whiplash claims are frequently cited as one of the reasons for the high cost of car insurance in the UK. Although the Association of British Insurers estimates that 93% of whiplash injury claims are genuine, and with personal injury solicitors estimating that fraud adds just £6.30 to the average person’s annual insurance premiums, the UK is often called the “whiplash capital of the world”.
While there are fewer whiplash claims than there used to be, with data from the Ministry of Justice’s Claims Management Regulation Unit revealing that December 2012 saw 2,553 claims compared with just 1,485 over September 2013, the government is still willing to fight to cut the number of claims even further.
However, whether these figures actually indicate that the government has been successful is uncertain. December is bound to see a larger number of road traffic accident claims than September due to poor weather conditions, with AA Insurance director Simon Douglas admitting that there is still little evidence the number of whiplash claims or personal injury claims has fallen as a result of government reforms.
Changes To Whiplash Claims
Independent medical panels will assess people’s whiplash injuries, ensuring only accredited professionals’ evidence is considered in these personal injury claims. It is hoped this will allow genuine claimants to succeed in their claims, while dissuading people from making fraudulent or exaggerated claims.
To implement these panels, the government will develop schemes to accredit specialists so they can properly assess a claimant’s whiplash. The medical reporting process will be improved, a greater amount of information will be provided for medical assessments and quality assurance will be provided through spot-checks. This data will also be shared with the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department and other police agencies to allow them to identify and prosecute any fraudsters.
Previous Changes To Personal Injury Claims
A number of other changes have already been made to personal injury claims and no win no fee solicitors’ representation. Referral fees have been banned, the amount of money solicitors can receive from successful no win no fee deals has been capped, lawyers’ fees for basic claims’ processing have been reduced from £1,200 to £500, and claims firms have been banned from offering gifts or cash incentives to clients, from running ‘Recommend a Friend’ campaigns and from agreeing contracts over the telephone.
The government had also proposed increasing the personal injury claims small claim limit to £5,000, but this proposal will not go ahead, providing some level of release for no win no fee solicitors. Nonetheless, this proposal has not been ruled out – the government is to keep this limit under review but will wait to assess the impact of the aforementioned amendments before making any changes.
Mr Grayling said that while raising the limit would increase the likelihood of exaggerated or fraudulent claims being challenged, he accepted that there are risks that this could hinder access to justice for people with genuine whiplash injuries.