Concerns over costs of medical assessments and the deferral of small claims court limit

Insurers have welcomed the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) decision to introduce independent medical panels from next year to assess whiplash claims.

But they raised concerns over the costs of medical assessments, and the government’s decision to defer proposals to increase the small claims court limit for personal injury from £1,000 to £5,000.

Aviva UK’s deputy claims director Rob Townend said the initiative would benefit genuinely injured motorists by making the claims process quick and efficient, if done correctly.

He added: “We must have independent reports on the right cases, at the right price, at the right time, and with the right level of checks and balances so that only genuinely injured claimants are compensated.

“But in doing so, we should consider lessons learned in other countries, such as Canada, where medical assessment costs have escalated out of control.

“It is crucial that all parties begin working together quickly to ensure the process has real rigour.”

Martin Milliner, the claims director at LV= expressed disappointment that the small claims court limit had not increased since the 1990s, which was in stark contrast to the average cost of a personal injury claim, and had contributed to the increase in bogus claims.

Milliner added: “It is disappointing that the MoJ has gone back on its pledge to increase the limit for personal injury in the small claims track to a minimum of £5,000 as this would have deterred many of the more spurious claims that come through.

“The opportunity for the claims management industry to profit from such cases is what has driven up the volume of personal injury claims and created the compensation culture that exists today.

“Nothing in the government reforms so far has properly addressed this root cause. This is a missed opportunity, and it would appear that the government has backed down on this issue.”