First Personal Injury

First Personal Injury

February 10, 2012 06:10 ET

Whiplash Claims and the Rising Cost of Motor Insurance

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Feb. 10, 2012) - It is often reported that the huge increase seen in the cost of car insurance can be blamed firmly on the cost to insurance companies of having to pay out on thousands of whiplash claims. For example, in 2010 to 2011 there were approximately 554,000 whiplash claims which accounted for almost 70 percent of all motor insurance injury claims. It is no wonder that people become increasingly concerned with the effect this having on their rising premiums.

In response to these concerns the Transport Select Committee has published a follow up report on the cost whiplash claims are having on the insurance industry, the difficulty in defining a whiplash injury and recommendations for how such claims should be dealt with in the future. The report highlights the complicated nature of a whiplash injury and whilst no-one is denying that such injuries are real and can severely affect those who are involved in an accident; it does recommend that compensation should only be awarded where clear objective evidence of a real injury is provided. The Committee believes that the bar for proving whiplash should be raised and claimants put to strict proof as to their injury. However, the law as it stands requires claimants to prove their claim and therefore prove that they have suffered injury. This is achieved through the provision of medical reports prepared by qualified doctors. The committee goes on to state that should legal reforms not reduce the number of claims then the government should introduce primary legislation to curb the increasing number of claims.

From this it is clear that the government is intent on driving down the number of people who claim for whiplash injuries. This is reinforced by the media who seem to vilify those who make a claim. However, the blame for increasing insurance policies does not lie solely with those who make whiplash injury claims. The Transport Select Committee has also reported on referral fees and accused the insurance industry of encouraging claims through the payment and acceptance of referral fees in which, insurers sell information about customers who have been involved in accidents to solicitors who then encourage them to make claims. There is also the cost of the accident repairs and hire cars which insurance companies help to spiral out of control.

Following the attention created by both the media and the Transport Select Committee to the rising cost of car insurance the Office of Fair Trading has also launched a market study into private motor insurance in the UK which will focus on the provision of third party vehicle repairs and credit hire replacement vehicles to claimants. Their research shows that insurance premiums rose by 12% between 2009 and 2010 and by a further 9% in the first three quarters of 2011. The OFT's reason for investigating the issue is not because innocent victims are making whiplash claims but because 'we suspect (insurance) companies may be competing to extract money from each other rather than keeping premiums as low as possible and providing car owners with value for money'. It is clear then that the insurance companies need to be taking their share of the responsibility for the rising cost of premiums that are biting deep into all our disposable incomes.

By looking at the matter as a whole we can see that those making a claim for whiplash as a result of an accident that is not their fault, cannot be held solely responsible for the rising cost of insurance. Even the Transport Select Committee have concluded that there are numerous factors affecting the cost of motor insurance and tackling some in isolation would not be guaranteed to bring premiums down. It should not be the case that those who have been in an accident that is not their fault and suffered injury should have their access to justice restricted when there are so many other issues to consider. The select committee itself commented that 'Where someone can demonstrate that they have suffered an injury, including whiplash, as a result of a road traffic accident for which they were not fully liable they should be able to claim and receive compensation'.

Whilst the cost of our insurance premiums is clearly an issue that affects us all, claimants should not be vilified for exercising their legal right and insurance companies should take their share of the responsibility by helping to bring the cost of insurance premiums down.

If you have been in a motor accident that is not your fault, suffered an injury and want to discuss making a claim then please call First Personal Injury and speak to one of our highly experienced team.

About First Personal Injury

First Personal Injury is a leading firm of specialist personal injury lawyers based in the North West and acting on behalf of Claimants nationwide.

First Personal Injury has a wealth of experience in dealing with personal injury matters and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. First Personal Injury is a member of the Law Society's Personal Injury Panel and is also a panel member of Headway, the brain injury charity. First Personal Injury is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL). Most cases are conducted on a 'no win, no fee' basis. First Personal Injury's goal is to ensure that Client's receive the best possible advice whilst maximising their claim and ensuring they receive 100% of their compensation.

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