The Ministry of Justice portal opens today and it is claimed by the government that drivers will get cheaper insurance as a result. That may be the case, although IPT may rise, individual drivers might save nothing on a £270 policy and others might save £1000 as they turn 25 and buy a smaller car. It’s hoped however that the reforms will discourage many `cash-for-crash’ claims, because there is now a ban on settling whiplash cases without medical evidence – a practice which has opened the door to fraudulent or embellished claims, to some extent.
Insurers have pledged to pass on the savings these reforms will create to drivers – worth a total of £1.2 billion, says the govt press release.
The Lord Chancellor, Robert Buckland QC MP, said:
For too long the system for making whiplash claims has been open to abuse by individuals looking for an easy payday – with ordinary motorists paying the price.
Our changes, which come into force today, will put an end to this greedy opportunism and ultimately see savings put back into the pockets of the country’s drivers.
Dominic Clayden, Chief Executive of Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB), who operate the new Official Injury Claim online claims portal, said:
We are pleased to have delivered on our remit to build a service that meets the requirements of these important policy changes.
MIB’s focus has always been about making sure the new legal process is as easy and straight forward as possible for anyone who might need to make a claim.
To make sure the service works well for everyone we will continue our work with the Ministry of Justice to listen to feedback and to make further enhancements.
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said:
There are almost as many lurid headlines about whiplash claims as there are claims themselves.
This new system should mean legitimate cases are easier and quicker to deal with, fraudulent claims are more likely to fail and all drivers benefit from decreases in their insurance premiums.
Key changes that have been introduced today include:
- A new digital portal to make a claim for any road traffic related personal injury valued at under £5,000, including claims for whiplash. This means claimants can settle their own claim without the use of a lawyer if they wish. It is anticipated that the majority of road traffic accident claims will use the portal in future.
- Increasing the small claims track limit for road traffic accident-related (RTA) personal injury claims from £1,000 to £5,000. Therefore the majority of all RTA related claims will now proceed through the cheaper small claims track where legal costs are not recoverable.
- A new fixed tariff of compensation for whiplash injuries setting out how much can be claimed for an injury, depending on how long it impacted the claimant with the duration up to two years. It provides claimants with a clear guide to how much their injury would be worth when they make their claim.
- A ban on the practice of seeking or offering to settle whiplash claims without first obtaining medical evidence.
WILL FAKE MEDICAL EVIDENCE PROVIDE A PLAN B FOR FRAUDSTERS?
IE only asks the question because you can buy all kinds of fake documents online. Then there are a few medical practitioners willing to act as enablers – for a fee of course. Here is an example from April; a practice working in Ireland and the UK;
The new rules don’t stop claimants from presenting to medical experts as if they are suffering long term after effects, as in this case;
The rule on costs will almost certainly put off many `no win no fee’ claims, since there is nothing in it for the legal firms. That’s not to say a new home-based, amateur advice service won’t spring up to guide people through multiple claims on a DIY basis. Setting a cap on multi claims from the same postal or IP address could be the solution long term.