But Aviva’s Andrew Wilkinson says insurers are just looking for quality reports for a reasonable price

Insurers are to blame for the rising cost of bodily injury claims, according to one speaker at the 2013 Motor Accident Solicitor’s Society (Mass) Conference.

Managing partner for the motor department and executive board at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors Matt Currie blamed insurers for driving up the costs of medical reports through delaying payment.

“There are two different pricing schemes dependent upon whether insurers want to pay a lower price promptly or delay and drive higher costs into their business,” Currie said. “We (claimant solicitors) all get to experience where we have that greater cost driven in and we are the people blamed for that.”

Currie added that the demands for reductions in the costs of medical reports could lead to a decline in quality of medical reporting.

“While fixing a low price might look like good news for insurers in the short term, it may deliver a race to the bottom in terms of quality,” he said. “This is one of the greatest dangers for the motor accident victim.”

Insurers just want a fair price

However, Aviva senior claims manager Andrew Wilkinson argued that insurers were just looking for a fair price for quality medical reports.

“Insurers accept that GPs should be paid for the work that they do, but we would argue that we can get rigour and quality out of medical reports without necessarily increasing pricing,” Wilkinson said.

And Wilkinson stressed the point that accreditation of the medical experts on the independent panels proposed by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to assess whiplash injuries was key to the success of the reforms and the sustainability of reductions to the number of claims.

“Experts do need to demonstrate that they have a knowledge of the subject. There is still a heap [of research] being done on whiplash, possibly more than there has ever been,” he said. “Accreditation ought to be a benchmark for a GPs’ expertise and they should have to get over a certain barrier. No accreditation should equal no authority to report.”

But costs may rise

However, legal services outsourcer Premex Group chief executive of insurance David Fowler warned that the introduction of independent medical panels could lead to a rise in the cost of obtaining medical reports.

Fowler said: “There will be more costs involved in terms of accreditation, sanctioning and managing the process. If there is a view that current examinations are not rigorous enough, then doctors will be required to be paid more.

“The doctors and the medical profession are at the bottom level of what they are willing to take [as payment].”

Whiplash facts

  • Change in number of whiplash claims between 2007/08 and 2011/12: +27%
  • Change in number of road traffic accidents between 2007 and 2011: -17%
  • Annual cost of whiplash claims to UK motor insurance industry: £2bn
  • Amount of motor insurer premium income paid out on whiplash claims: 20%

Source: data.gov.uk and ABI