How to make an insurance claim for whiplash

The rules for whiplash claims have changed. Find out how much compensation you may be entitled to if you’ve suffered a whiplash injury in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, and how to make a claim.

Kim Jones
Kim Jones
Updated 10 January 2023  | 4 mins read

Key points

  • New rules on whiplash claims came into force in May 2021 to clamp down on the high number of fraudulent and exaggerated claims
  • It’s now mandatory to provide medical evidence of your injury to make a whiplash claim
  • An online portal allows whiplash sufferers to make a personal injury claim for less than £5,000 without needing a lawyer
  • A fixed tariff of compensation for whiplash injuries clearly sets out how much you can claim depending on how long the whiplash injury has affected you for

What is whiplash?

Whiplash is an injury to the neck caused by a sudden forceful backward and then forward movement.

It can cause damage to the tendons, ligaments, muscles and nerves of the neck.

Most commonly, whiplash presents after a car accident, especially when a vehicle is hit from behind.

Symptoms can occur immediately after the event or within the following days. They can include neck pain and stiffness, shoulder and upper back pain, plus headaches.

In many cases people will recover from whiplash within three months. But some people may develop chronic pain that lasts for years.

Can I make a whiplash claim for personal injuries?

Whiplash is a common personal injury claim. Government figures for 2020Official Injury Claim service operated on behalf of the Ministry of Justice. You can do this for free and without the need for legal help. But you can choose to make a claim via a solicitor if you prefer, though you may get charged.

What are the latest rules on making a whiplash claim?

New whiplash injury regulations came into force in May 2021 and they apply to any whiplash injury that occurred on or after 31 May 2021.

These new rules were implemented in an attempt to clamp down on the number of fraudulent or exaggerated claims made for whiplash.

Under the new regulations, whiplash claim amounts have been reduced and are based on the length of time you suffer from your injuries.

You now also need to provide medical evidence to make and support your claim. Before, many whiplash claims were settled by insurers without the need for medical reports. This made it easier for people to make fraudulent claims.

How do I make a whiplash claim?

If you’re aged 18 or over, the accident happened on or after 31st May, you believe the accident was not your fault and you have a minor injury with a value of under £5,000, you can make a claim through the Official Injury Claim portal.

According to Official Injury Claim, the vast majority of whiplash claims will be valued at less than £5,000 and so are suitable for this service.

As well as claiming compensation for your injuries, you can also make additional claims for losses, costs and expenses incurred as a result of your whiplash injury up to a value of £5,000.

These may include car repair costs, damage to items in the car at the time of the accident and loss of earnings if you haven’t been able to drive to work because your car is out of action, for example.

If the amount you wish to claim for is more than £10,000 in total (£5,000 for your injuries, and £5,000 for your losses) then you won’t be able to use the Official Injury Claim Portal and should get legal advice.

If you’re claiming through the Official Injury Claim Portal, the process is as follows:

  • Provide initial information

Where and when the accident happened, vehicles involved, who you think was responsible, and the injuries you received

  • The claim is investigated

Official Injury Claim will pass on your details to the insurance company of the driver you deem responsible and they’ll conduct their own investigation

  • Medical proof of injury

Official Injury Claim will help you arrange a medical appointment with an expert who can assess your injuries and write up a medical report

  • Receive an offer

Once the other driver’s insurer has accepted responsibility, and you’ve provided them with proof of injuries and losses, you’ll be offered a figure for compensation which you can accept or challenge. Once you’ve accepted an offer, you’ll receive payment and the case will be closed

The service also offers a dedicated telephone support centre.

How much is whiplash compensation?

With the introduction of the new Government regulations, the amount of compensation you can claim for whiplash injuries has been set into tariffs.

Compensation amounts are based on the length of time you suffered from your whiplash injury and range from £240 for an injury that lasted no more than three months, to £4,215 for an injury that lasted more than 18 months, but not more than 24 months.

Small extra amounts can also be claimed if you suffered minor psychological injuries due to whiplash.

An additional 20% can be claimed if the whiplash injury is especially severe and the injury has led to extreme physical and psychological suffering.

Duration of injury Whiplash* Whiplash with minor psychological injuries**
Not more than three months £240 £260
More than three months, but not more than six months £495 £520
More than six months, but not more than nine months £840 £895
More than nine months, but not more than 12 months £1,320 £1,390
More than 12 months, but not more than 15 months £2,040 £2,125
More than 15 months, but not more than 18 months £3,005 £3,100
More than 18 months, but not more than 24 months £4,215 £4,345

*Based on figures from The Whiplash Injury Regulations 2021. The total amount of damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity payable in relation to one or more whiplash injuries, taken together.

**Based on figures from The Whiplash Injury Regulations 2021. The total amount of damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity payable in relation to both one or more whiplash injuries and one or more minor psychological injuries suffered on the same occasion as the whiplash injury or injuries, taken together.

Why should I make a whiplash claim?

If your injury has affected your life adversely and resulted in expenses and losses, then you may want to consider making a claim.

Can I make a whiplash claim as a passenger?

Yes, you can make a claim whether you’re the driver or a passenger in a car accident.

How does a whiplash claim affect my car insurance premiums?

Unfortunately, any claim you make on your car insurance can result in your premiums rising at renewal time, even if you’re not to blame.

That’s because insurers regard someone who’s been in involved in an accident (even one that’s not their fault) as being more likely to be involved in another and needing to claim again.

Non-fault claims shouldn’t affect your protected no-claims bonus discount though.

Can a whiplash claim be refused?

Yes, if you haven’t been able to secure medical evidence that you’re suffering from whiplash, your claim can be refused.

Similarly, if you can’t provide sufficient evidence that the accident wasn’t your fault, then the other driver’s insurer may refuse to accept liability and reject your claim.

In such circumstances, you can challenge the insurer via the Official Injury Claim portal or get independent legal advice.

How long does it take to settle a whiplash claim?

Every claim is different and it’ll depend on how quickly the responsible driver’s insurer accepts fault and how long you have to wait to get a medical appointment and report, plus whether the claim is straightforward or more complex.