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Changes to whiplash claims process will ‘put an end to greedy opportunism’

Written by on 31 May 2021

The cost of a typical annual car insurance policy could fall by around £35, thanks to new rules on whiplash.

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) says an online portal will now be available for traffic-related personal injury claims under £5,000 for drivers in England and Wales.

It will mean people can settle their own claim for accidents from 31 May onwards without the use and expense of a lawyer.

Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland said: “For too long the system for making whiplash claims has been open to abuse by individuals looking for an easy payday – with ordinary motorists paying the price.

“Our changes, which come into force today, will put an end to this greedy opportunism and ultimately see savings put back into the pockets of the country’s drivers.”

Settling whiplash cases without evidence will also be banned, in a bid to stop fraudulent or exaggerated claims.

There were more than 550,000 whiplash claims made in the year 2019-20 – an “unacceptably high” number, the MOJ said.

The resulting claims contribute to the cost of every driver’s policy and, despite fewer crashes reported year-on-year since 2013, road traffic accident claims are more than 40% higher than in 2006.

The MOJ said insurers have promised to pass on the savings from the reforms, which could be worth a total of £1.2bn.

James Dalton, director, general insurance policy, the Association of British Insurers, said: “This long-awaited reform is a big win for consumers.

“The portal and associated reforms will help control the costs associated with whiplash claims, whilst ensuring proportionate compensation is paid to genuinely injured claimants.

“The ABI has been working with the government over a number of years on much-needed reforms to the UK’s personal injury system, and this portal is a key development to ensure a compensation system that has genuine claimants at its heart, while cracking down on those who look to exploit the system.”

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “This new system should mean legitimate cases are easier and quicker to deal with, fraudulent claims are more likely to fail and all drivers benefit from decreases in their insurance premiums.”

Dave Lovely from insurer Aviva said the new rules would allow them to “focus on those people with genuine injuries and claims to ensure we help them when they need us most”.

Aviva said that the reforms would effectively end the “no win, no fee” incentive behind many minor injury claims that encouraged some claimants to “have a go”.

This will remove legal costs from many minor claims, and should also cut the number of nuisance calls and texts chasing injury claims, it added.

The Official Injury Claim portal is operated by the Motor Insurers’ Bureau.

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