Insurers finally laid their cards out on the table for all to see yesterday, as they insisted that compensation for victims of whiplash should be abolished.
Over the past two years the insurance industry have gone out of their way to make it more difficult for people to claim compensation for low value injuries such as whiplash and thanks to the government have largely succeeded, in the wake of the Jackson Reforms and the cuts to litigation costs.
But now they have gone one step further by suggesting that instead of claimants of such injuries being able to uphold their right to claim for their injuries, a system should be put in place whereby insurers pay directly just for the treatment.
Speaking on behalf of the Association of British Insurers (ABI), their head of motor and liability James Dalton said: “We need a debate about whether someone should be awarded money for a low-value, low impact (car collision) and very minor injury claim. It’s a debate about whether you should be provided with rehabilitation and no cash. That is a legitimate public policy debate for society to have and politicians to decide on.”
Of course there are many reasons to oppose the suggested schemes made by Mr Dalton, one of them being the honesty and integrity of the insurance industry and whether they can be trusted to ensure that adequate are and rehabilitation is provided and paid for.
Especially considering the revelations by the competitions commission regarding the corners that were being cut when it came to repairing, accident damaged vehicles, where it was deemed that the lives of those who got back in them was being placed at risk. Who is to stay the same apathy wouldn’t be taken towards the quality of rehabilitation being provided to accident victims.
The other, more serious, objection would be that that such an system is dismissive of the impact such an injury can have on other areas of a victims life. It is all very well covering the cost of rehabilitation for the injury but what about the loss of earnings that may occur as a result or as is the case in a lot of claims of this nature, the psychological effects an accident can cause.
Also speaking at the Modern Claims Conference, where Mr Dalton made his claims, was MASS (Motor Accident Solicitors Society) Chair Craig Budsworth, who openly condemned the ABI‘s stance.
He told the conference: “Even if their injury means they can’t go to the gym – for some people that is their life and that deserves compensation. We will be saying that is wrong for the innocent accident victim.”
This was followed up by Deborah Evans, the chief executive of APIL (Association of Personal Injury Lawyers) who pointed out the effect such a change would have on the fight against fraud with in the industry, saying: “All sides had worked together on ways to combat fraud in the system, but removing solicitors would take away a vital banner to fraudulent claims.
“It has always been much easier when you have the client across the table from you to tell if they are being truthful. The more removed we get from the client, the more fraud will prosper.”
This will, no doubt, be the first of many rumblings to come from the insurance industry regarding a system without legal representation. It can only be hoped that, instead of rolling over and agreeing to the insurers beck and call, as they did with the cuts to litigation costs, the government will see through this and realise that it would all but destroy the genuine claimants access to proper justice.
1. ABI; http://blog.abi.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/James_Dalton_blog-e1375261714677.jpg