The government will set up a panel of expert doctors whose job it is to ensure whiplash claimants aren’t attempting to defraud insurance companies. The Ministry of Justice believes cracking down on whiplash fraud will reduce the cost of motor insurance, while still ensuring those who suffer injuries get adequate care and compensation.
According to the Association of British Insurers, whiplash claims cost motorists £2 billion every year, adding an average of £90 to each driver’s overall premium.
There were an estimated 500,000 whiplash claims in 2012, with each payout costing insurers approximately £4,400 in compensation and legal fees.
“We are turning the tide on the compensation culture and helping hardworking people by tackling high insurance premiums and other motoring costs,” said Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary.
“It’s not right that people who cheat the insurance system get away with it while forcing up the price for everyone else – so we are now going after whiplash fraudsters and will keep on driving premiums down.”
Not everyone is convinced the panel of doctors will deter those who wish to make fraudulent claims. Smart Witness, a seller of in-car cameras, believes that hardcore insurance fraudsters know “exactly what to say in detail about their injuries to get the payout they are looking for.” As a result, the medical examination panel may struggle to disprove their claims.
In-car cameras, such as those made by Smart Witness are, of course, a good way for insurers, and indeed motorists, to protect themselves from fradulent claims.
In a recent case, a haulier was saved from a potential claim of up to £75,000 for whiplash injuries by proving that their lorry driver was the victim in a motorway collision, rather than the cause. In this case, a vehicle drove across three lanes of the motorway and into the path of their lorry, with the driver claiming it was the lorry that was at fault for hitting him.
The claim was subsequently throgn out.