The Commons Transport Committee is set to investigate the staggering rise in insurance claims related to whiplash over the last seven years.
Despite a recent, sharp reduction in the number of reported accidents involving personal injury, owing to an improvement in vehicle safety, there has, conversely, been a 60% increase in the number of personal injury claims on the road since 2006.
It’s an epidemic that has impacted the lives of each and every motorist in the UK: an epidemic that has now attracted the attention of MPs.
The cost of fraud
While a number of these claims are genuine, their sheer volume is beginning to blur the lines between genuine and fraudulent claims, making it much harder for those people whose lives are negatively impacted by a road traffic accident to receive the compensation that they so desperately need and deserve.
Not only is the additional cost of fraudulent whiplash claims being passed on to the consumer, adding an additional £90 each year to the average premium, the astronomical rise in whiplash claims in recent years is worryingly seeing the emergence of organised gangs that specifically use false whiplash claims as their primary source of income.
“Whiplash capital of the world”
The Commons Transport Committee is adamant that work must be done to relinquish the UK of its title as the “whiplash capital of the world.”
The Committee’s actions are the first serious attempt, since Justice Secretary Jack Straw’s 2011 private member’s bill, to solve a problem that is rapidly becoming embedded in the very fabric of British society.
With over 500,000 whiplash claims made in the last twelve months, the proposal of the Association of British Insurers to investigate whiplash claims more fully, taking into account the details of a traffic collision – and not just a prospective claimant’s purported symptoms – must be taken more seriously.
What is being done?
The Commons Transport Committee, a cross-party task force, has already undertaken two separate inquiries over the last three years, which have tried to understand why the cost of car insurance in the UK has soared in recent years.
This third inquiry into the rise of fraudulent and exaggerated whiplash claims is merely the next logical step.
The Committee is looking to ascertain what proportion of the average £90 annual increase in car insurance premiums is a direct result of the rise in exaggerated and fraudulent whiplash claims. The inquiry is, furthermore, concerned with discovering whether the Ministry of Justice’s proposal in December 2012 to create new, medical panels to help in the diagnosis process of whiplash injuries would have any discernible, positive impact on reducing car insurance premiums.