Fraud increases accident claims volume – and doctors agree

Weekly whiplash news review: 7 days ended 19 sept 2012:

This week, the biggest news in whiplash claims wasn’t that fraud drives claims volume but that the majority of doctors in the UK feel that most patients exaggerate neck injuries.

According to nearly three out of every four doctors surveyed recently, the lion’s share of Brits purportedly suffering from neck injuries are nothing better than a pack of bloody liars. An overwhelming 73 per cent of GPs and specialists interviewed in the survey felt either most of their patients or even all of them were exaggerating whiplash injury symptoms, possibly with an eye towards making a personal injury claim somewhere down the road.

Now it’s no big secret that personal injury compensation claims for whiplash have rocketed recently, even as the number of road traffic accidents reported to police have gone down. There were 16 per cent fewer injurious car accidents in 2011, even though claims volumes increased by a third over the same period of time.

The AA says that insurers incur something like £2 billion in legal costs on an annual basis just from whiplash claims alone. This makes it around £90 more expensive to take out motor insurance for the average driver, and fraud could be responsible for a large proportion of this £2 billion.

In fact, the Association of British Insurers says it’s discovered evidence that out of every 100 motor insurance claims last year, 7 of them were fraudulent.  This figure actually increased by two percentage points over 2010 figures, and while that looks like just a small increase, even a single percentage point could result in hundreds of thousands of pounds when multiplied out over the more than 500,000 personal injury claims made on an annual basis.

Now there are initiatives currently underway to clamp down on fraud as a way to control costs for insurers in the hopes that doing so will have a knock-on effect of lowered premium prices in the long run. While there has been some progress being made on these fronts, there’s still plenty of ground to cover before enough fraud has been eliminated to make a difference, so here’s hoping the trend continues so we can all afford to take out car cover come renewal time.

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