The ABI wants a clampdown on ambulance chasers and claims farmers that its claims have turned the UK into the ‘whiplash capital of Europe’.

The ABI said ambulance chasing lawyers and claims management firms, coupled with ‘crash for cash’ staged motor accidents has increased the risk of fraudulent claims.

According to the ABI, action is needed because:

  • Nearly 1200 whiplash claims are made every day. This is six times more than the number of people who claim for workplace-related injury every year
  • The costs to the NHS of treating whiplash have been estimated at £8 million a year
  • Three-quarters of personal injury claims in the UK are for whiplash, more than elsewhere in the Europe
  • Insurers pay out nearly £2bn a year in claims for whiplash

Speaking at the 2011 Whiplash conference in Leeds today, James Dalton, the ABI’s assistant director of motor and liability, said: “Despite the statistics I doubt that that the UK has some of the weakest necks in Europe. Often difficult to diagnose, easy to fake and exaggerate whiplash is a fraudsters dream.”

The ABI is calling for action around:

  • Implementation of Government proposals for civil justice reform to ensure genuine claimants get fair compensation and access to rehabilitation more quickly, and to reduce the scope for fraudulent claims
  • Intensifying insurers’ crackdown on fraudulent whiplash claims, for example cracking down on organised ‘crash for cash’ staged motor accidents
  • Raising consumer awareness on the need to keep a safe breaking distance from the vehicle in front. So called ‘tailgating’ is the main cause of whiplash
  • Developing authoritative medical guidance on how to accurately diagnose and treat genuine whiplash

Dalton added: “We seem ill-equipped to effectively identify and treat whiplash; our compensation system is too slow in paying fair compensation and offering rehabilitation to genuine claimants, and our compensation culture encourages fraud.”

“All this must change. Our action plan will set up what is missing: an effective partnership between doctors, insurers and lawyers to ensure better prevention and treatment of whiplash, and crackdown on fraudulent claims.

“This will reduce the unacceptable costs which whiplash currently imposes on individuals, businesses and the state.”