Insurers should crack down on vehicle whiplash injury claims to end practices that encourage fraud and exaggeration, MPs have urged.
The Transport Committee’s report said the Government should consider reducing the time limit for road accident insurance claims and force whiplash claimants to produce more supporting evidence.
However, genuine claimants should not be demonised. Anyone who really has suffered a whiplash injury can contact Accident Advice Helpline to have their condition assessed by a medical expert.
MPs also said the assertion that the UK is the “whiplash capital of the world” cannot be proved.
Whiplash small claims
The Government’s proposals to switch whiplash claims between £1,000 and £5,000 to the small claims court could hamper the justice process, particularly for people who do not feel confident to represent themselves against insurers who use legal professionals to contest claims, the report warns.
It could also prove counter-productive in efforts to discourage fraudulent claims as expert evidence is not generally submitted.
In their report the MPs said: “We were surprised to hear that insurers will sometimes make an offer to personal injury claimants even before a medical report has been received. We also note that our previous recommendation on making the links between insurers and other parties involved with claims more transparent has been ignored.”
Committee chair Louise Ellman said: “Whiplash injuries can have debilitating consequences for those who suffer them. However, some of the increase in
whiplash claims will have been due to fraud or exaggeration.
“To help bring insurance premiums down the Government must tighten up the requirements for motor insurance claims and ensure that insurers honour their commitment to reduce premiums.”
She said the Government should consider requiring claimants to provide proof that they have either been seen by a doctor or attended A&E shortly after the accident.
The number of fraudulent and exaggerated claims has contributed to the increase in motor insurance premiums in recent years.
But the committee said the absence of comprehensive statistics about road traffic accidents means it is impossible to relate the increasing number of personal injury claims to the number of accidents.