Could an independent panel crush the compensation culture?

We’ve heard a lot recently about the impact spurious personal injury claims are having on individual motorists’ insurance premiums. But it’s not only individuals who are suffering. Increased insurance premiums are also having a massive impact on fleets.

Jo Hammonds, the Mears Group fleet manager, explained that the personal injury compensation culture is having a huge impact on fleet premiums because the largest costs for insurers are associated with injuries. However, claimants do not receive all of the compensation; a significant proportion goes to personal injury solicitors.

Last year alone, insurers paid out more than £2 billion for whiplash claims. The government is banning referral fees for third-party claims and it also intends to reform the rules surrounding the no win no fee system. But these changes have yet to provide any tangible benefits. There are still far too many companies offering no win no fee services and their activities need to be curtailed.

Justine Greening, the transport secretary, recently said it was not possible to rid the UK of fraudulent whiplash claims with one silver bullet, but the government has started to take decisive action.

One suggestion that could help reduce the number of claims is to set up an independent panel of doctors who would tackle questionable medical evidence. These experts would take over the responsibility of assessing whiplash injuries and as they would be completely unbiased, dishonest claimants could be deterred from making claims.

One of the problems with whiplash is that it’s hard to disprove. Drivers have learned the right words and phrases to use to make their claim sound genuine. People who have suffered genuine injuries are of course entitled to compensation. The problem is how to weed out the dishonest ones before their claims get to the courts.

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