Car insurers are getting it in the neck as they pay out £2 billion a year to drivers and passengers claiming whiplash injuries.
The UK is the ‘whiplash capital’ of Europe, with a claim lodged every minute – and insurers reckon many are rip-offs because the injury is so hard to confirm.
The merry-go-round of ambulance chasing lawyers, claims management firms and crash for cash crooks staging accidents is adding to the misery of honest drivers who are forking out around £30 a year each to fund the fee feeding frenzy.
Association of British Insurers Assistant Director of Motor and Liability James Dalton has highlighted some facts and figures relating to road accident claims at the motor insurance industry’s 2011 Whiplash Conference in Leeds.
The ABI revealed:
- Around 1,200 whiplash claims are made every day – six times more than the number of people seeking compensation for workplace-related injuries
- Treating whiplash injuries costs the National Health Service around £8 million a year
- The UK has more personal injury claims than elsewhere in Europe
- Whiplash compensation costs insurers £2 billion a year
“We seem ill-equipped to effectively identify and treat whiplash; our compensation system is too slow in paying fair compensation and offering rehabilitation to genuine claimants, and our compensation culture encourages fraud,” said Dalton.
“All this must change. Our action plan will set up what is missing: an effective partnership between doctors, insurers and lawyers to ensure better prevention and treatment of whiplash, and crackdown on fraudulent claims. This will reduce the unacceptable costs which whiplash currently imposes on individuals, businesses and the state.”
The ABI is urging the government to take steps to reduce claims by:
- Reforming civil justice processes so genuine claimants are paid fair compensation while cracking down on fraudulent claims and crash for cash scams
- Raising awareness on keeping a safe braking distance from vehicles in front.
- Developing medical guidance on how to diagnose and treat genuine whiplash.
“Despite the statistics I doubt that that the UK has some of the weakest necks in Europe. Often difficult to diagnose, easy to fake and exaggerate whiplash is a fraudsters dream,” said Dalton.