Whiplash crackdown begins

Government plans to take a hard line on controversial whiplash 'epidemic'

Submitted by CDodd on Tue, 11/12/2012 - 11:43

THE UK GOVERNMENT has announced plans to reduce the number of whiplash claims made on British roads, many of which are false or exaggerated. 

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has announced a consultation on creating new independent medical panels to improve diagnosis of whiplash injuries. They hope to improve expertise on whiplash and make it easier to challenge those that flout the rules and exaggerate or fabricate a claim, whilst ensuring that those who are genuinely injured are correctly compensated.

Figures show an astonishing 60 percent rise in personal injury claims related to road accidents since 2006, despite a 20 percent reduction in reported accidents over the same period. 

James Dalton, head of motor and liability at the Association of British Insurers, said: 'We are pleased that the Government recognises that tough action is needed to protect honest motorists from the UK's whiplash epidemic.

'For too long, whiplash has been seen as the 'fraud of choice.'

'Our roads are safer, yet every day over 1,500 whiplash claims are made.'

According to Moneysupermarket.com, false whiplash claims add roughly £90 to a typical car insurance policy (£2 billion overall.)

Although the problem is well acknowledged, an alternative view is that insurers themselves are responsible for the rise in premiums - in 2011, former Home Secretary Jack Straw lifted the lid on a culture of unscrupulousness within the insurance industry, highlighting the complex and questionable relationship between insurers, lawyers and claims companies. 

His report proved that insurers were selling the details of reported incidents on to claims companies, pocketing lucrative referral fees. The victims were then bombarded with offers to manage their 'claim' (often 'whiplash'), promising significant 'no win no fee' returns. Parlimentary under-secretary for Justice Jonathan Djanogly described the resulting spike in claims as a 'sick, suing culture', which is driving up premiums as insurers pass the cost of the rising number of spurious claims (referred by them) onto the consumer. 

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