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ABI release their proposals to tackle the UK’s whiplash epidemic

The logo for the Association of British Insurers (ABI)

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has released their plans to rid the industry of fraudulent claims and, as they put it, make it simpler and quicker for genuine whiplash claimants to get fair compensation. The point they failed to mention, and we would suspect the most important to the insurers, is that they will save them a whole lot of money in the process.

As they continue to quote figures that have been proven to be disproportionate, the ABI has set out the next stall to reform the personal injury for their gain and reiterated their desire to see the small claims limit risen from £1,000 to £5,000 for all road traffic accident claims.

What such a move is likely to cause is early offers, made by the insurers themselves, being accepted instead of genuine claimants taking them on through the courts, which therefore will lead to lesser damages being awarded and the genuine claimant being undeservedly left out of pocket.

Also on the agenda for the ABI is the laying down of a prescribed level of damages for whiplash which is all in the name of relieving the UK of their title of the Whiplash capital of Europe.

This has already been disputed by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) in the past month, who revealed to the ongoing Transport Select Committee’s whiplash investigation that the figures quoted by the ABI were in fact based on figures from the Comité Eupopéen des Assurances (CEA) which is nine years old, and relies on figures that date from before that.

In fact when you look at more recent surveys from 2008 by the World Bank, it is revealed that the UK has 79% more vehicles per kilometre than the European Union average, including Spain and Germany, which is why there are more accidents of the sort of nature that would bring about a whiplash injury.

James Dalton, the Director of Motor and Liability for the ABI summarised the proposals saying: “We believe our proposals offer the best cure for the UK’s whiplash epidemic. Insurers want to make it simpler and quicker for genuine whiplash claimants to get fair compensation. But whiplash is notoriously difficult to diagnose, which mean that for too many people it has become the fraud of choice.”

There were also some positive suggestions within the ABI‘s proposals. They suggested that anyone claiming for a whiplash injury should be required to undergo a medical examination by an accredited expert, and urged that any claimant whose claim is exaggerated or made up should have their claim entirely dismissed.

Mr Dalton said: “Our proposals will ensure better medical assessment of whiplash claims, offer a quick, simple way of paying genuine claims; provide certainty for claimants and compensators, and deter fraud that ends up being paid through higher motor insurance premiums.”

Whereas the personal injury sector accept that the existence of fraud within the industry, and agree with the insurance industry that all must be done to cut it out, the proposals to raise the small claims limit are still of huge worry, not just to the continued functioning of personal injury firms across UK but for the genuine claimants right to their access to justice.

The raising of the limit will effectively remove the ability for a genuine claimant to receive the compensation they need to recover to the position they were in before their accident occurred, which as it wasn’t their fault, is fair and within their rights.

In terms of the ABI‘s claims that whiplash claims continued to increase, as claimed by the latest figures released by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFOA), which relies on UK motor insurance date, well they seemed to have ignored the official government figures which has shown a drop of nearly 15% on whiplash claims over the past two years.

With these figures recorded before the extensive reform that has been brought in from the 1st of April 2013, surely it would be suggested that the whiplash problem is already on the decrease and such a measure as reducing the small claims limit would be hasty one to say the least in the aftermath of such extensive reforms.

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