Whiplash claims a pain in the neck for insurance industry

Covered mag, presented by Gocompare.com
  • | by Kristian Dando

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) believes that Britain has become the “whiplash capital of Europe”, with three quarters of all UK personal injury claims made relating to the neck complaint.

Compensation payments to the tune of £2 billion a year are made to sufferers, despite the National Health Service only spending around £8million on treating whiplash-related injuries over the same period.

About 1,200 whiplash complaints are lodged every day in Britain, the highest amount of anywhere in the European Union.

So-called ‘ambulance chasers’, claims management firms and staged incidents have been blamed for the high number of whiplash claims, which the ABI estimates adds about 20 per cent, or £74, to the average price of an annual car insurance policy.

James Walton, the ABI's assistant director of motor and liability, said :”Despite the statistics I doubt that the UK has some of the weakest necks in Europe. Often difficult to diagnose, easy to fake and exaggerate, whiplash is a fraudster's dream." “We seem ill-equipped to effectively identify and treat whiplash, our compensation system is too slow in paying fair compensation and offering rehabilitation to genuine claimants, and our compensation culture encourages fraud,” he continued.

Whiplash is caused by sudden and severe movement in the neck, and is usually a result of rear end shunts in road accidents. It’s an injury which is easy to fake and difficult to disprove, leading to a high proportion of fraudulent claims. The ABI has called for doctors, lawyers and insurers to work together to improve treatment and detection of the injury.