Insurance companies should be immediately ‘taken to task’ and put an end to injured people being used as scapegoats for high motor premiums, say claimant lawyers.
Not-for-profit campaign group the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) today (31 July) welcomed a shift towards ‘transparency and truth’ in the outcome of an inquiry into whiplash claims and the cost of motor insurance.
“Finally, some realities about the whiplash claims system have been recognised,” said APIL chief executive Deborah Evans. “The Transport Select Committee has acknowledged that the Government has, so far, largely been influenced by the insurance industry in its plans to tackle high motor premiums, and called for insurers to get their house in order. I couldn’t agree more,” she went on.
“Some of the real mischief lies in credit hire and repair practices, which the Office of Fair Trading has described as ‘dysfunctional’. And we need to see an end to insurers trying to cheaply pay off crash victims before a medical assessment has been carried out,” Deborah explained.
“The issue of whiplash claims and their effect on premiums has been subject to much propaganda. But the committee recognises that the number of claims has fallen*, and that reports of the level of fraudulent claims are essentially based on guesswork,” she added. “Its recommendation for the insurance industry to provide better data about fraudulent injury claims, so that there is a stronger evidence base for policy decisions, is very welcome indeed”.
The committee also said that plans to send whiplash claimants through the small claims court could be counterproductive in efforts to detect and discourage fraudulent and spurious claims.
“The Government must listen to reason. To send whiplash claims to the small claims court will punish genuinely injured people by leaving them unrepresented. It will create an opportunity for claims management companies to take on cases in exchange for a share of the victim’s compensation, as we’ve seen with PPI claims, leading to a boom in cold calling and texting which could ultimately encourage more claims,” said Deborah.