Whiplash and young drivers’ telematics are hot topics at Whitehall insurance summit

Transport secretary Justine Greening promised government action on rising motor rates by the end of the year at last week’s insurance summit.

In a sign of how seriously the government is taking its commitment to bring down insurance costs, Greening was joined by justice minister Jonathan Djanogly, minister of state Oliver Letwin, roads minister Mike Penning and health minister Simon Burns.

Greening, who chaired the meeting at the Department of Transport offices in Whitehall, said: “Building on what we have already achieved together, we are doing everything possible to drive down the cost of motor insurance and I believe that by the end of the year, when we and the industry have completed further work, we will be able to bring forward yet more proposals to do this.”

Other attendees were RSA chief executive Adrian Brown, AXA UK chief executive Paul Evans, Aviva UK general insurance chief executive David McMillan, Biba head of corporate affairs Graeme Trudgill, Zurich UK chief executive Stephen Lewis, Sabre chief executive Keith Morris, ABI director-general Otto Thoresen and ABI director of general insurance Nick Starling. Consumer groups Which? and uSwitch also attended.

The main topics discussed were:

• How insurers could find ways to reject unfair whiplash claims without having to find and prove fraud.
• Government consultations on setting up independent medical panels to judge whiplash claimants and changing the threshold of the small claims court from £1,000 to £5,000.
• Giving guidance to doctors on identifying whiplash.
• How interested young drivers are in telematics and how it could help to reduce claims and premiums.
• A possible ban on whiplash claims from drivers travelling at less than 10mph.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said that no time had been set for the two consultations. Djanogly said there would be a “big bang” in the whiplash arena, now that the Legal Aid Act has royal assent and will come into force next April.

Telematics insurance was one of the hot topics at the meeting. In a statement, Greening said: “We will also work with industry to take full advantage of the use of telematics, or in-car black boxes, to give young people a greater choice of options if they want to drive.”

Trudgill said it was “difficult to get a word in edgeways” at the crowded meeting. He spoke about the benefits of telematics to young drivers and how more brokers have been offering telematics.
Trudgill said: “Everyone wants to make progress. There was a common theme about reducing that cost to the policyholders.”

The second summit followed an initial meeting between David Cameron and insurers in February on the rising cost of motor insurance. There will be a third summit this autumn.