6 MPH… The whiplash limit

Imposing a minimum speed limit of 6mph before whiplash can be claimed will cut the cost of motor insurance policies by an average of £45 a person, says leading motor insurers.

The companies have called for the Government to adopt legislation used in Germany to stop the estimated 285,000 fake neck injury claims a year – saving insurers £1billion in payouts.

At present, the burden of proof in British courts is placed on insurers, so most cases are settled out of court as it costs more to prove the driver was not injured after a collision at low speed.

In Germany the courts take the opposite approach. Insurers will not accept injury claims if evidence shows the collision between two vehicles occurred at speeds below 10kmh or 6.25mph.

Claimants in Germany also have to get two medical opinions to prove they have suffered whiplash.

Britain has been dubbed the whiplash capital of Europe as 76 per cent of personal injury claims are for the neck injury, as opposed to five per cent in France and 13 per cent in Finland.

In the past three years, claims for whiplash rose by a third to 570,000, which has cost insurers £2billion a year, and added £90 to the average insurance premium. Up to half of these claims are believed to be fraudulent.

Ashwin Mistry at Brokerbility, a leading insurance broker, which handles £450million a year in claims, said: “The German model is something we should embrace. If we had it in Britain this would negate 50 to 75 per cent of whiplash claims.” Mr Mistry has been working with former Labour Justice Minister Jack Straw MP to get the insurance industry to adopt a unified approach in reducing injury payouts. He is calling for insurers to investigate claims more aggressively to deter fraudsters.

He also wants an end to insurers passing on details of accidents to third parties for a fee, to stop no-win, no-fee “ambulance-chasing” lawyers profiting from fake injury claims. Statistics show 87p of every £1 paid out in compensation by British insurers last year went in legal costs.

Steve Hardy at Axa Personal Lines also wants the German approach to be adopted. He said: “Car manufacturers could fit devices in cars to record how fast they were going when collisions occurred, which would act as a deterrent against false claims.”

Criminals have cashed in on the scam.

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Mohammed Patel, from Bolton, deliberately caused 93 car crashes across Greater Manchester, which enabled car owners to make a total of £1.6million in fake claims. He was jailed for four years in 2009.

Earlier this month the House of Commons Transport Select Committee recommended Government action to tackle motor insurance fraud.

Original Article: The Daily Express

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