Proposals to be considered by Transport Select Committee

David Gittings LMA

The Lloyd’s Market Association (LMA) has laid out a five-point plan for reducing the £2.2bn annual national bill for whiplash claims.

The LMA proposed the changes in its submission to the Transport Select Committee’s inquiry into whiplash, which took written evidence until 15 April. It said the plan would significantly reduce the number and cost of whiplash claims, particularly frivolous and fraudulent ones.

 The association’s recommendations were:

  • Increasing the maximum payout for injury claims in the small claims track to £5,000 from £1,000.
  • Bringing in a new medico-legal process with stronger governance of costs, production and content of medical reports.
  • Publishing a new public tariff for damages that courts can award to whiplash claimants based on the severity of their condition.
  • Reducing the period in which a claim can be brought from within three years of the accident to within six months (or reducing payments for claims made more than six months after the accident).
  • Starting a new public debate on the appropriate level of damages for whiplash claims in the UK.

The new medico-legal process is proposed to address LMA’s concerns about the current situation. Many medical agencies conducting assessments of whiplash claimants are owned by solicitors, the association says.

LMA underwriting manager David Powell said: “A major difficulty is that the low barrier to success for whiplash claims, and the high cost of opposing them, often make it uneconomic for defendants to mount a legal defence – even when claims are weak.

“Whiplash is a highly subjective injury: the accepted legal evidence of causation and injury is entirely based on doctors describing symptoms reports by the claimant – potentially up to three years after the event.

“We believe the proposals outlined by the LMA would be sufficient to reduce the frequency and cost of low value motor claims in the next few years.”

The number of whiplash claims in the UK has risen by 60% in the past six years, with some 828,000 claims made in 2012.