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,
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