But survey finds that the new medical panel alone is enough to combat spurious whiplash claims
Drivers have welcomed the launch of MedCo, the Ministry of Justice’s independent medical panel, according to a survey by the AA.
MedCo was launched in April as part of a series of measures designed to cut the number of spurious whilplash claims.
Before MedCo, claims management companies and claimant solicitors could use their own doctors to make a diagnosis in whiplash claims.
But under the new system medical reporting organisations (MROs) must register with MedCo and confirm they have no financial links to claims firms or personal injury lawyers so that claimants can be referred to them on a random basis.
The AA survey, which polled nearly 16,863 drivers in March, found 79% of respondents think MedCo will cut the number of people making whiplash injury claims – 36% strongly so.
But 83% don’t believe the medical assessment alone goes far enough, agreeing that it is important to consider other circumstances such as damage to the vehicles or witness statements, so that an informed assessment of the likelihood and severity of injury can be made.
Fifty-four percent of the drivers surveyed believe that collisions of such a low speed that no vehicle damage occurred should be dismissed as a matter of course.
Also, 66% think that where whiplash injury has been suffered, compensation should be paid through care provision such as physiotherapy rather than in cash.
AA Insurance counter-fraud director Stephen Gaywood welcomed the findings.
But he also expressed concern that MROs could exploit loopholes in the new system by setting up multiple registrations.
Gaywood said: “The objective of MedCo is to provide a portal for independent MROs to assess claimants, removing a potential conflict of interest where they may be linked with personal injury claims solicitors.
“However it appears to be possible for a claims firm to make several local registrations under different names, all using the same medical practitioner, which would give an unfair advantage to claims management firms and solicitors referring cases,” he says.“The ministry of Justice recognises this threat and has issued a statement.”
He added: “Nevertheless, MedCo is in its early stages of development and it is an important step towards stemming the growing tide of those prepared to rip off their insurers.”