The government expects changes to the law surrounding whiplash injury compensation to shave £35 from drivers’ annual insurance premiums. The new rules for England and Wales are designed to “clamp down on exaggerated claims”, and make the process easier for genuine claimants.
According to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), the new measures are designed to reduce the “unacceptably high” number of whiplash claims made each year. The department says more than 550,000 claims were made in the 2019/20 financial year alone, and the number of road traffic accident claims is up by more than 40 percent since 2006.
Under the new rules, which came into force on May 31, claimants will need medical evidence before a whiplash claim can be settled. This, the MoJ claims, will prevent “fraudulent or embellished claims”, and will “allow” insurers to cut premiums for drivers.
The new measures also include an online portal for claims of less than £5,000, as the government attempts to simplify the process and remove the need for expensive lawyers. In total, it’s thought the savings could total £1.2 billion a year – the equivalent of £35 per driver – if insurers pass those savings on to consumers.
In a statement, the MoJ said the new whiplash tariffs will give claimants “clarity, predictability, and certainty” about how much their claim will be worth. The system is also designed to keep costs under control and to ensure the compensation awarded to claimants is “proportionate” to the injury suffered.
“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,” said the Lord Chancellor, Robert Buckland QC. “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.”
Meanwhile Dominic Clayden, chief executive of the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB), which developed and now operates the new Official Injury Claim online claims portal, said the new system would make claiming “straightforward”.
We are pleased to have delivered on our remit to build a service that meets the requirements of these important policy changes,” he said. “The MIB’s focus has always been about making sure the new legal process is as easy and straightforward as possible for anyone who might need to make a claim. To make sure the service works well for everyone we will continue our work with the Ministry of Justice to listen to feedback and to make further enhancements.”