U.K. Should Make More Demands on Whiplash Claimants, Panel Says

The U.K. should consider reducing time for road-accident insurance claims and require whiplash claimants to produce more supporting evidence to prevent fraudulent claims and cut premiums, a panel of lawmakers said.

There are about 500,000 claims each year for whiplash injuries where soft tissue, usually in the neck, is damaged in car accidents, according to the committee. The Association of British Insurers says costs associated with whiplash claims make up 20 percent of the average motor insurance premium.

In a report published today, Parliament’s cross-party Transport Committee said the government should consider requiring claimants to provide proof that they have either been seen by a doctor or attended hospital emergency services shortly after the accident. There should be a presumption against accepting claims where adequate proof of injury is not provided, the lawmakers said.

“The government must tighten up the requirements for motor-insurance claims and ensure that insurers honor their commitment to reduce premiums,” opposition Labour Party lawmaker Louise Ellman, who chairs of the panel, said in an e-mail.

Direct Line Insurance Group Plc said the report highlights the need for the government to make fundamental changes to tackle fraudulent claims. The U.K.'s biggest home and motor insurer has called for a mandatory 90-day time limit for whiplash claims.

A more rigorous medical process and tighter timescales ``will help reduce fraud and speed up the process for those genuinely injured,'' Steve Maddock, managing director of claims at Direct Line, said in e-mailed comments.

One in eight people who make a personal-injury claim for whiplash have either fabricated or exaggerated their injuries, according to Direct Line.

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