Momentum is gathering behind a recent government report showing a fall in the number of whiplash claims with up to 10 per cent drops in some areas.
The Compensation Recovery Unit statistics showed there were 547,405 whiplash claims in 2011/12, compared to 571,111 in 2010/11, despite average motor premiums increasing during that period.
In addition a survey from the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) a non-profit organisation supporting the rights of injured people, showed that almost 40% of whiplash sufferers hadn’t ever claimed for their injuries but that 30% had been encouraged to make a claim by insurance companies themselves.
Karl Tonks, President of APIL criticised the insurance industry in an article published by Litigation Futures this week. “Instead of pointing the finger at everyone else, insurers really need to stop and look in the mirror,” said Mr Tonks. “They need to stop paying compensation without even asking for a medical report. And they need to start sharing the information they hold about fraudsters to help claimant lawyers identify them early in the process.”
Insurers…need to stop paying compensation without even asking for a medical report
While the legal industry is tightly regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, there is not the same level of scrutiny over the way insurance companies deal with potential claims with some preferring to settle claims early rather than deal with the medical reports or investigate for possible fraud.
APIL have released a 10 point plan to reduce fraud in the industry, which includes recommendations such as an enforcement of future ban preventing insurers from selling claimants’ details, and to ban insurers from paying compensation without medical evidence.
With the insurance industry using high numbers of whiplash claims as a reason for increasing their motor premiums over recent years, this significant reduction in the amount of claims must surely reverse that trend and lead to lower premiums.
Angry campaigners in the BB postcode in East Lancashire have called for an end to ‘unfair’ and ‘irrational’ motor insurance premiums according to the Lancashire Telegraph prompting MP Jack Straw to call the price hikes ‘crazy’ and for insurance companies to reflect the fall in claims in their premiums.
What will be interesting is whether the insurance industry follows through and begins lowering premiums or if they find some other justification for continuing to increase the costs to motorists.