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The whiplash injury trend

"Whipping up a storm"

Much has been made of recent developments relating to high insurance premiums. Insurers are citing a huge increase in the amounts they are paying out for injury claims. So lets look at this trend and see what we can all do to avoid high insurance premiums in the future.

Please note that making a false or exaggerated claim is a criminal offence and you will be liable to prosecution for insurance fraud.

It would appear that even small bumps can lead to whiplash claims plus there is an increasing trend of staged accidents which are set up solely to benefit from a whiplash claim.

Typical payouts for a minor whiplash claim are often around £700-£1500 (at the present), but if long term pain and damage is caused then much larger payouts are awarded. The legal fees and associated costs associated with a "managed claim" can quickly rack up and include hire cars, loss of earnings etc...

If a person is genuinely injured in a claim and this has affected their life for any period of time or if it is likely to require ongoing treatment then they should be entitled to fair compensation.

We have to try to break this compensation culture where people seek to inflate their claim and try to make money out of an accident. This should be as antisocial as shoplifting as it is something that we all end up paying for in the long run.

Compensation claims have really spiralled out of control and this is seriously inflating the cost of our insurance premiums in the UK. Estimates suggest that drivers are each paying on average an additional £90 per year to cover the cost of these claims.

The rising trend of no win no fee solicitors and so called "ambulance chasers" are encouraging people to make these often frivolous injury claims. When a person has an accident they will deal with many different people from a vehicle recovery agent, to an insurance broker and probably will seek estimates from a couple of garages. Most of these companies will pass the customers details on to a firm of accident recovery specialists and will be awarded a commission, fee or back hander of around £300 for a successful referral.

Reports from one recent accident victim stated that 4 solicitor or legal firms contacted her to persuade her to claim for injuries and damages resulting from her accident.

The UK government have confirmed that they are planning to take action to kerb these claims and will most likely outlaw the referral fees, change the rules around the speeds involved where whiplash compensation is paid and clarify the legal position of claimants. Fees for lawyers involved in these claims are also likely to be reduced.

We should also insert a warning here. If you make a claim for injuries where there were none, or were so slight that it was hardly noticeable and didn't have an effect on your life then you are committing insurance fraud and could be subject to prosecution. An accident management company or legal firm will have a vested interested in your legal fees associated with a compensation claim and are not able to give accurate medical advice.

Now the key thing here is for all drivers to mitigate their losses in the event of a claim. Can repairs be done more cheaply, do you really need a hire car and is any injury claim really genuine as we will all be paying for these inflated claims over the next few years by way of higher premiums.

Here is an experience from one of our editorial team relating to his recent experience of an accident.

"Recently we had a car go into the back of ours causing very minor damage to our rear bumper. We could have gone through insurance companies and got a new bumper plus associated fixings, our car would have been off the road for a few days as well so we'd have needed a hire car as well. We might also have been tempted to claim for a sore neck as well (there were 4 of us in the car so this could have really racked up a large claim).

Instead we went to a local 'one man band' repairer on the industrial estate for a quote. The bumper needed a little filling and a respray, that was all. The whole repair was completed in 1 day and cost just £150. The other driver was delighted and opted to pay this money himself rather than go through the insurance company. The job has been finished and is superb, you really don't notice anything ever happened."

So a total claim which could have easily cost the insurance company £1000's (probably nearer £4000) didn't actually cost them anything. If more drivers took this responsible approach, mitigating their losses rather that seeing an accident as a quick way to make money we would all benefit from lower insurance premiums.

Please note that if you do cause an accident and choose not to deal with it through your insurers you will still need to notify them of this as it is a material fact. You will also need to be careful to keep track of all letters and correspondence relating to your claim and get your car checked over thoroughly.

We would like to see a mandatory ban on all small whiplash claims where the minor injury and pain can be managed with pain killers and lasts for no more than a few days. There should also be

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