The whiplash capital of Britain - and what it costs you
Filed under: Motoring
So where is the whiplash capital, and what is it costing us?
Motoring advice & info
Whiplash capitalThe city with the most claims per head was Liverpool, where incidents are 20 times more common than elsewhere in the country and twice the UK average. In fact there were 22 claims per thousand people in the city - which is hard to imagine being possible.
Running it a close second is Uxbridge in West London, with 21 claims per thousand people, Oldham with 20 per 1,000, and Bradford, Ilford and Bolton with 18.
Motoring advice & info
Mixed pictureThis provides a dramatic comparison with the areas with the fewest claims, including Edinburgh and Dundee with just three claims per thousand people.
Broadly the fewest claims tended to be in Scotland, the North East, East Anglia, the South West and mid-Wales. The hot spots, meanwhile were largely concentrated around the North West and London. Overall there were 543,000 whiplash claims in the UK - a figure which has remained reasonably steady for the last three years.
The huge gulf between the areas with most and fewest claims has led to speculation that some of this may be driven by fraudulent claims, or by pressure from personal injury law firms in specific areas. The fact that referral fees paid by law firms to garages and insurance brokers are more closely controlled in Scotland puts these figures in an interesting light.
The costAccording to the Association of British Insurers, last year these claims cost insurers over £2 billion, adding an extra £90 a year to the average annual motor premium of £440. It is, unfortunately, very difficult to tell how many of these claims are bogus. The Insurance Fraud Bureau estimates that around 30,000 a year may not be real.
James Dalton, ABI's Head of Motor and Liability said: "If whiplash was an Olympic sport, the UK would be gold medallists. The fact that whiplash is virtually impossible to disprove means that for too many it has become the fraud of choice, often aided and abetted by ambulance-chasing lawyers and claims management firms".
Clamp downThe good news is that legislation is on the way which will reduce the scope for 'have a go' claims and demand that whiplash is proven to an independent panel of doctors - rather than just the victim's GP.
Peter Harrison, car insurance expert at MoneySupermarket, said: "Exaggerated whiplash claims on even the most minor of incidents have contributed to an unprecedented hike in premiums over the last few years. This clampdown is a step in the right direction for motorists who want to see the cost of their car insurance reduced." The site ran a survey and found that 93% of people support a clampdown on these claims.
However, Dalton wants to see the government go further. He is calling for a system where whiplash claimants receive no compensation for alleged pain and suffering (general damages) unless there is objective medical evidence of injury, greater use of bio-mechanical evidence that might enable the introduction of a speed threshold under which there would be a presumption that whiplash has not occurred, and capping or reducing the level of damages for whiplash claims.
Top 10 areas for claims (adjusted for population)Liverpool