Steve Beasant

Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Great Grimsby and Councillor for the East Marsh Learn more

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David Ward welcomes ‘care, not cash’ proposals which will combat number of whiplash claims and reduce car insurance premiums by £50

by Steve Beasant on 15 March, 2015

Liberal Democrat MP for Bradford East David Ward last week (13th March) welcomed the six point plan published by Insurance giant Aviva, to clamp down on the number of fraudulent and exaggerated whiplash claims and ensure that genuine injured parties get the medical care that they need.

Aviva Insurance has just published a six point plan to tackle the near record levels of whiplash claims which they state costs motorists £2.5bn, which adds £93 to the cost of average motor insurance. Aviva state that more than 840,000 motor injury claims will be made by April 2015, or 2,300 claims every day. This is a rise of 9% on the previous year – or 200 extra claims per day.

Aviva analysed the motor injury claims it received in 2014 and found that 80% included whiplash, a significantly higher figure than seen in many other European countries. More worryingly, Aviva state that 96% of their personal injury claims come through a third party such as claims management companies (CMCs) or personal injury lawyers.

David Ward‘s research Unaffordable Insurance: Applying the Brakes, into car insurance in Bradford showed that there was a strong correlation between the activity of Claims Management Companies, the number of whiplash claims and the cost of car insurance premiums. It noted that due to the changes brought in by The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LAPSO), this reduced the number of CMC’s in the Yorkshire Humber region by 55% between 2011 and 2014. This had the corresponding effect of reducing the number of whiplash claims by 30%, with car insurance premiums in Bradford reducing on average by around 28%, saving Bradfordians over £170 on an average annual insurance premium.

Aviva has developed six recommendations for reducing the number and cost of whiplash claims, which could see fewer whiplash claims, lower premiums and help those with genuine injuries get the care they deserve. The Key features include:

  1. Reduced Limitation Period: All whiplash/ soft tissue injury claims should be made within 12 months of the accident as opposed to the usual three year limitation period.
  2. Time Limits and a Threshold: The claimant’s symptoms should last longer than 3 months. This should be evidenced by medical records.
  3. Rehabilitation – care, not cash: Insurers should provide treatment of up to three months to their policyholders or the injured party regardless of who is at fault for the accident.
  4. Medical Evidence – Where the symptoms persist beyond three months, an independent medical report should be obtained from the new Government vehicle MedCo between three and 12 months after the accident for whiplash/soft tissue injury claims.
  5. Level of Disability – Medical reports should assess the level of disability, and compensation would be recoverable if there is actual evidence of injury.
  6. Predictable damages – Where a claimant is able to demonstrate he or she has overcome the threshold, damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity should be awarded against a clear, transparent tariff.

Aviva’s package of reforms which they call a ‘care, not cash’ system of treating minor, short-term whiplash-type injuries, they state could help save £50 on the cost of motor insurance.

The Government are already rolling out measures to introduce compulsory independent medical certificates (Medco) for soft tissue damage like whiplash. This will mean that any whiplash claim after 6 April 2015 will need to be accompanied by an independent medical certificate which will help to reduce fraudulent and exaggerated claims.

Commenting about today’s announcement David Ward MP said:

“The high number of fraudulent and exaggerated whiplash claims in Bradford pushes up the cost of car insurance for everyone. Such practices aren’t a victimless crime, they push up insurance premiums and this is unacceptable.

“This six point plan would introduce reasonable measures which will ensure that those who are genuinely injured get the care and support that they need whilst protecting others from the fall out of higher premiums through fraudulent or exaggerated claims.

“Government efforts to date on combating insurance fraud have already brought car insurance premiums down across the country by about £80 and further measures around independent medical certificates will have a further effect on reducing the number of whiplash claims. It’s clear that the rise in whiplash claims could be due to heightened activity by injury lawyers before the new rule take effect.

“However, it’s clear that more still needs to be done to reduce whiplash claims and I’ll be keeping pressure on the Government to continue its programme of introducing measures which will help reduce car insurance premiums for Bradfordians.”

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