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Commons inquiry into whiplash claims
The Commons Transport Select Committee has revealed its long-awaited report on the cost of motor insurance.
The report addresses government plans to cut the cost of whiplash claims, concluding that the cuts would only benefit claims management companies and would threaten access to justice.
The Committee declined to approve government plans to switch whiplash claims to the small claims track in County Courts where there is a higher financial limit of £5,000 per claim. The report said the switch would only encourage fraudulent and exaggerated claims.
The report also accused ministers of only listening to insurers’ perspectives in the effort to reduce motor premiums, adding that insurance companies were often guilty of accepting claims without proper scrutiny and even before a medical evidence had been produced.
Figures provided by the government show that the number of whiplash claims has fallen since 2010–11 and is now at its lowest since at 2007–08. The report said there is no conclusive evidence that the UK is the ‘whiplash capital of the world’.
However the Committee did agree that claimants should provide more information in support of their claim, such as proof they saw a doctor shortly after their accident.
Such proposals will clearly require careful consideration. Acknowledging the difficulty in obtaining precise medical evidence of whiplash injuries, Louise Ellman said that “genuine claimants should not be demonised simply because their condition cannot be picked up on a scan.”
In response to the Committee’s report, Justice Minister Helen Grant said the government has already made changes to “turn the tide on compensation culture” and help ordinary people with the cost of living.
Figures in her possession apparently show that insurance premiums are now falling as these reforms start to make an impact.
Supporting the report’s overall pro-claimant approach, she said: “We agree with them that people must continue to be able to make genuine claims.”