Report: Outlaw Whiplash Payouts Before Medical Assessment
Transport Committee Report Calls For Changes To Cut Motor Insurance Premiums
A Transport Committee report is encouraging the government to “outlaw insurance payouts for whiplash” before claimants have been medically assessed. The report – which evaluates the pros/cons of government plans to tackle fraudulent and exaggerated claims – is the fourth of recent times and focusses heavily on this type of claim. It concludes that “while premiums are now falling” certain “aspects of the market remain dysfunctional and have encouraged criminality to take root.” Further action, the report emphasises, is “required to tackle fraud whilst protecting genuine claimants”. It also concludes that solicitors should be prevented from commissioning medical reports from “experts who are not genuinely independent”. These are of suspect merit, after all.
Government Definition Of Whiplash And Number Of Claims
The government defines whiplash as “neck pain which occurs after the soft tissue in the spine has been stretched and strained when the body is thrown in a sudden, forceful jerk.” The problem is that “there is no generally accepted objective test for a whiplash injury”. There are, after all, “no physical manifestations” and it “cannot be diagnosed using a CT or MRI scan.” This encourages people to exaggerate injuries, then claim compensation. Numbers – some of which were genuine - peeked in 2010/11 at five-hundred and sixty thousand. Such claims increase the cost of insurance as the payouts come premiums. Furthermore, some solicitors encourage people to claim via incentives such a free tablet computer. The report says this practice should “be banned”.
Transport Committee Report: Further Recommendations
The Transport Committee report broadly backs other plans to reduce the fraud and exaggerated claims that increase motor insurance premiums. It therefore endorses the government’s plan to require courts to “strike” dishonest claims, e.g. those involving gross exaggeration. It does, however, recommend caution against introducing hasty legislation as there are complicated legal implications to consider. Furthermore, it says that data sharing relating to potentially fraudulent claims between insurers/claimant solicitors should be compulsory (rather than voluntary as proposed). The report also encourages the government to oversee funding arrangements for the police Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department. This could ensure it has a long-term future. Furthermore, it welcomes the proposal for independent medical assessments but emphasises that more work is required on implementation. Finally, it calls on the government to push the Solicitors Regulation Authority to stop law firms playing the system to maximise revenue by “commissioning unnecessary psychological evaluations”.