Programme treated 10,000 people; more rehabilitation studies to follow

Norwich Union (NU) has hailed its whiplash rehabilitation programme a success, claiming that since 2006 it has saved the company £1.5m in treatment costs.

Morag Heighway, rehabilitation manager at NU, said 10,000 people had been treated since the launch of the company’s rehabilitation programme with two outside clinics.

Heighway said NU has saved £150 per case on the cost of treatment and had received significant anecdotal evidence that those who went through the programme returned to work faster.

She attributed the success to the fact that it gave people direct access to rehabilitation, introducing an element of control.

She said: “We researched the companies and chose the ones we felt best met the needs of Norwich Union. We think there are significant benefits. This enables us to drive down the cost of insurance.”

NU will be conducting more evidence-based research into rehabilitation in the near future. This will include assessing the mental impact of injury on a victim.

Last year NU had 400,000 whiplash claims, which accounted for 80% of all motor claims.

NU started its rehabilitation programme in October 2006, following a successful two-year pilot project with Rehabilitation UK, which it acquired and renamed Norwich Union Rehabilitation.

But despite the pilot’s success, NU decided it would be cheaper to shut down the NU Rehabilitation clinic and purchase treatment from two external providers following the same model.

The closure of NU Rehabilitation was controversial. In an email to Insurance Times, several of the clinic’s staff members expressed frustration over the decision to shut it down, claiming their skills and hard work in promoting evidence-based treatment was not properly recognised.

Heighway said Norwich Union Rehabilitation was intended only as a pilot project. But she admitted that the concept remained viable and might be revisited next year.