A report published this week by one of the world’s leading insurers, Axa has called on the government to adopt a series of recommendations which include imposing a three-day limit in which whiplash claims have to be recorded if they are to succeed, and making it mandatory for there to be physical evidence such as an MRI scan or an X-Ray to back-up a whiplash compensation claim.
Axa believes that its recommendations would reduce the number of fraudulent and exaggerated whiplash claims. In the report, it states that there have been some cases whereby a whiplash diagnosis has been given over the telephone by a doctor rather than face to face.
Mr Voller’s comments are factually incorrect. Claims are at a five year low.
According to Axa: “Whiplash now accounts for 78 per cent of all personal injury claims in the UK which contrasts with just three per cent in France where the diagnosis of whiplash requires objective proof based on more rigorous medical testing. No compensation can be awarded in France without an independent medical assessment by a professional who is an expert in dealing with bodily injuries.”
Axa is calling on the government to implement such measures that are already in place in countries such as France and Sweden, where the number of claims for whiplash has fallen and where motor insurance premiums are lower.
The report which was launched at a roundtable discussion, co-hosted by the former Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, Jack Straw is expected to be met with fierce opposition from personal injury law firms and consumer groups.
Chris Voller, Axa’s Claims Director writes in foreword to the ‘Axa Whiplash Report’ in July 2013 “The number of compensation claims for personal injuries, notably whiplash, continues to rise pushing up the cost of motor insurance for motorists.”
Official data published in April 2013 reveals that the number of claims for whiplash is not rising as Mr Voller suggests, it has in-fact decreased by 60,000 to a five year low. The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Department for Work and Pensions’ compensation recovery unit, which revealed there were 488,281 whiplash claims in Great Britain in 2012/13. That compared with 547,405 in 2011/12, and was the lowest since 2008/09.
Paul Hinchliffe, the Managing Partner at Bott and Co which specialises in road traffic accident claims commented on the Axa report: “Mr Voller’s comments are factually incorrect. Claims are at a five year low, and soft tissue injuries and whiplash can take more than three days to materialise. We are constantly being told by insurance companies that objective proof is not possible, so what difference would an MRI make?”