The House of Commons Transport Select Committee has today published a report into the cost of motor insurance and whiplash.
The report comes following the Select Committee hearing evidence from key figures within the industry about how the cost and number of whiplash compensation claims can be reduced.
The main recommendations from the report are:
- Whiplash claimants should have to prove that they saw a medical professional shortly after their accident.
- One of the committee’s terms of reference was to establish whether the government were right in describing the UK as the “whiplash capital of the world”. The committee state in the report that “this cannot conclusively [be] proved or disproved from the information available.”
- To recommend to the government to bring forward the time period reduction in which whiplash claims can be made.
- To leave whiplash claims out of the small claims track as this impairs access to justice – particularly with people who do not feel confident enough to represent themselves.
- To recommend that the Ministry of Justice look for new ways of aiding litigants in person who are using the small claims track for personal injury claims.
- The changes could create opportunities for claims management companies.
- The impact of the electronic portal for processing claims should be analysed before deciding whether to proceed.
- Analyse current portal first.
The committee believes that there is scope for insurers to provide more accurate data about whiplash claims that are fraudulent or exaggerated, because at the moment there is no precise figure. During one evidence session the committee were told by David Brown from the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries that “up to 60% of whiplash claims are either fraudulent or exaggerated”.
This is a common sense approach without the politics – and it is right that there needs to be better data sharing in order to reduce fraud as quickly as possible.
The fact that some insurers are making offers before a medical examination has been held is something that surprised those on the committee. The Law Society recently launched their ‘don’t get mugged’ campaign which recommended that victims should always use a solicitor and get professional legal advice. The campaign formed the basis for ‘don’t get mugged week’ which was launched by law firm Bott and Co.
Speaking about the report, Senior Partner at Bott and Co, David Bott commented:
“I welcome the report and most of the comments made by the Select Committee. On the whole this is a common sense approach without the politics – and it is right that there needs to be better data sharing in order to reduce fraud as quickly as possible. I very much agree with the committee that whiplash claims should not be added to the small claims track which can appear confusing for litigants in person.
“However, I disagree that whiplash claimants should have to prove that they saw a medical professional shortly after the accident – the medical profession is overstretched as it is. Further, different time periods for whiplash claims appears contrary as whiplash does not deserve to be treated as a lesser type of injury.”