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A not-for-profit organisation
committed to injured people

Blog: Whiplash claims falling but car insurance premiums set to rise

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Whiplash claims falling but car insurance premiums set to rise
Jonathan Wheeler | 06 May 2015

Government figures tell us that whiplash claims have fallen over the last four years by more than a third – that’s almost 200,000 claims. A Freedom of Information Act request made by APIL shows that they have fallen by eight per cent in the past year alone.

So you could be forgiven for wondering why insurers such as Aviva and the AA are warning that car insurance premiums are set to increase this year due to the cost of ‘out of control’ claims.

In the past few years the Government has made radical changes to the system, slashing to the bone claimant solicitors’ fees and those of medical experts   in  whiplash claims. From next month a new system is to be introduced to help eliminate fraud. And now we have cast-iron evidence that whiplash claims are falling. The insurance industry promised the last Government that it would pass on savings from law reform to its customers in the form of lower insurance premiums. Yet now we are being warned that premiums are set to rise again.

It appears that the insurers want more. What they are repeatedly calling for is an increase in the small claims court limit from £1,000 to £5,000 for personal injury cases. This would mean that many more people with injuries caused by someone else – perhaps on the roads, or at work – would be forced into a court where people represent themselves, a court which is traditionally used for settling disputes about faulty goods or services.

I saw that last week, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) published its top ten priorities for the next Parliament. And guess what? It includes increasing the small claims court limit for personal injury claims, and fixing legal fees for industrial deafness claims (which, by the way, have also fallen in the past year). We know from our own research that 70 per cent of people would not want to pursue a claim for whiplash (for example) without the help of a solicitor. No wonder the insurers are so keen for the next Government to make this change.

In a recent magazine article, the ABI’s director of general insurance policy is quoted as saying that “increasing the small claims track limit is a potential quick win and would reduce premiums.” How many more “wins” does the insurance industry need before it finally makes good on its promises to reduce premiums?    

The argument to raise the small claims court limit has come before successive Governments several times now and each time it has been rejected. For that, the injured people we serve are grateful. In my year as president of APIL I will do everything in my power to ensure the next Government listens to the evidence and is not hood-winked by  insurers’ empty promises. 

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About this blog

Jonathan Wheeler

Jonathan has recently stepped into the role of APIL president for 2015-16.
He specialises in child abuse cases and leads the team at Bolt Burdon Kemp in Islington.