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24 April 2012
People claiming whiplash injuries should not be entitled to compensation unless there is objective evidence that they have suffered injury. This is one of several radical reforms which the ABI today said needs to be considered to reduce the UK's whiplash epidemic and bring down the costs of motor insurance. Britain's thriving whiplash industry is now pushing up the cost of the average motor insurance policy by a staggering 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 – enough to fill the London Olympic Stadium seven times over. 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 today, 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”.
Outlining ideas for radical reform, James Dalton added:
“The crackdown on our whiplash epidemic has started with the Government's reform of civil litigation which will reduce the scope for 'have a go' claims. But we also need to consider radical action if we are to get a grip on whiplash, such as:
• 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.
“Only by thinking big and bold can we reduce the whiplash problem and the costs of motor insurance.”