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Blog: The picture is getting clearer

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The picture is getting clearer
Deborah Evans | 01 Aug 2017

According to the AA’s British Insurance Premium Index, the average car insurance policy is at a record high. Injury claims are the traditional whipping boy, but is the truth coming out?

This week, the Daily Telegraph reported that insurers 'grossly inflate repair bills’. Association of British Insurers (ABI) figures show that the average cost of a settled vehicle damage claim has risen 23 per cent since 2013, while the average cost of a motor-related injury claim has fallen 5 per cent. The rising costs that come with complex vehicle technology and spiralling spare parts costs due to currency fluctuations ignited by Brexit are no doubt also playing a part in the cost of damage claims.

Yet it is still injuries which are used as scapegoats to hide an insurance-led agenda to cut the very real cost of genuine claims.

The false whiplash claims excuse does not wash. Fraud isn’t as big a problem as insurers want you to believe. The ABI’s (Association of British Insurers) own figures show that proven fraud is only 0.17 per cent of all motor-related claims, and only a portion of this will relate to injuries. Huge steps forward have been made in the fight against fraud with the introduction of Ask CuePI and MedCo.

Now we are awaiting a decision on the discount rate for large lump sum payments for catastrophic injuries. A discount is applied to make an adjustment to large payments to allow for the possibility that claimants may invest the money. The rate was unaltered for 16 years, so it was no surprise to anyone that it was updated, at last, earlier this year to reflect the current financial markets. But this correction is also falsely-accused of hiking up our premiums.

Direct Line’s half year financial review, however, says that the cost of reducing the discount rate is lower than originally expected. It reads: “detailed case reviews conducted in Q2 of the additional costs arising from the lowering of the Ogden discount rate indicated a lower than expected increase to claims costs”.  The sad fact is few serious cases will have settled over the last few months as insurers hold off in the hope of the Government delivering a revised, more advantageous, rate.

But the fact remains that, despite rocketing repair expenditure, the overall cost of motor claims to Direct Line has fallen, from £416.1 million in the first half of 2016 to £403.5 million in the first half of 2017 - a fall of 3 per cent.

If the Government announces a new method of calculating the discount rate which favours insurers and allows them to return to paying less than full compensation - what fresh excuse will be drummed up for the next time premiums increase?

Past blog entries

Untangling fact from fiction, 04 Dec 2017
Future reform to the bringing of clinical negligence claims?, 26 Jun 2017
There is a cost to caring, but it is a cost worth paying, 28 Feb 2017
Decisions to come in 2017, 06 Jan 2017
Claims Management Companies – the Dragon that Needs Slaying, 19 Dec 2016
Personal injury reform: Back to the dark ages , 23 Nov 2016
If the NHS was an airline, we'd never dare to fly, 03 Oct 2016
Car insurance premiums - a matter of trust?, 31 Aug 2016

About this blog

Deborah Evans

I'm Deborah Evans, APIL's Chief Executive Officer. I shall be using this blog to keep you informed about campaigning and political work carried out by APIL.