Despite the Law Gazette reporting in September 2012 that whiplash claims fell by 4.2% in the year 2011/12 from the previous year, it seems that new research from the Independent Study of Actuaries has revealed that there has been an increase in accidents involving injury by 5% from 2011 to 2012.
More interestingly, they have discovered that claims have been from accidents occurring in 2010 and 2011. They believe this is due to ‘claims farming’ where claims management companies bombard people with phone calls, texts and emails asking if they have had any accidents in the last three years, in attempt to profit from old cases before there is an industry clamp-down.
The average claim size for non-serious injuries such as whiplash in 2012 was £9,512. In addition, claims for whiplash and other minor injuries made up 90 percent of motor insurance claims in the same year.
Jack Straw, the former Justice Minister, a strong campaigner against whiplash fraud commented: ‘They’re scrabbling around to exploit any loophole they can find to maintain their profitability. This is not about the public interest. It’s preposterous to see a rush of claims going back three years from people who have had a low-impact prang.” Jack Straw was a supporter of the referral fee ban implemented on 1st April 2013 which has affected claims management companies in particular.
On the other hand, there are often legitimate reasons why people delay putting a claim in for personal injury after an accident. They may not realise that they are entitled to any compensation, want to wait until their medical treatment has finished, or is simply something they have just not considered.
Although, Jack Straw makes an important point about tackling fraud, not every whiplash claim is fraudulent and every claimant should not be tarnished with the same brush simply because they do not have major injuries. Most claimants have been in a genuine accident that was not their fault and have suffered pain and financial loss as a result.
By Melanie Chisnall