Estimated to add £90 a year to the average motor insurance policy and undoubtedly the topic of the moment, the government is now calling time on falsified and exaggerated car accident claims, in an effort to combat the country’s much-discussed “compensation culture”.
To eliminate any scope for foul play amongst claimants, personal injury solicitors or medical professionals, and to help reduce insurance premiums, a series of new rulings is set to be introduced over the coming months, in a complete overhaul of the claims system, initiated by Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling.
The first of these measures, the Jackson reforms, came into force last year, invoking a ban on underhand “referral” fees and preventing personal injury solicitors from being able to double their fees at the expense of defendants and their insurers.
Now, the government has announced that, as of October, fees charged for medical reports will be slashed from £550 to £180 in instances where the patient claims to being suffering from whiplash.
Whilst the new cost has supposedly been introduced to more accurately reflect the time taken to carry out assessments and write them up, there are, understandably, concerns that examinations may become less thorough as a result. If this is the case, the new rulings could carry dire implications, such as an increase in misdiagnosis cases and consequential negligence claims.
There are also plans to introduce accreditation for experts providing whiplash reports and insurers will be put under pressure to only settle claims with a valid medical report.
Whilst the government may have good intentions, politicians must be careful not to tar every practice and expert with the same “fraudulent” brush. Respected medical and legal firms aim to secure an appropriate level of care and compensation for their clients – not exploit them simply to line their own pockets.
Certainly, it is important that bogus car accident claims are uncovered for what they really are, but such a dramatic clampdown could risk going so far the other way that it may, ultimately, be genuine claimants who end up paying the price.