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Transport Committee publishes fourth report: ‘Driving premiums down: fraud and the cost of motor insurance’

Published: 7 July 2014

MPs are demanding that whiplash insurance payouts made before any medical exams are carried out should be banned.

It is the fourth in a series of reports from the Transport Committee on the rising cost of car insurance for Britain's cash-strapped motorists. The reports look to tackle fraudulent and exaggerated motor insurance claims, particularly for whiplash injuries. The new report is officially called 'Driving premiums down: fraud and the cost of motor insurance'.

Louise Ellman MP, Chair of the Transport Committee, said: "While premiums are now falling, aspects of the market remain dysfunctional and have encouraged criminality to take root. Further action is still required to tackle fraud whilst protecting genuine claimants.

"The Government must prohibit insurers from settling whiplash claims before the claimant has undergone a medical examination.

"Action is required to prevent abuses arising from Alternative Business Structures that allow solicitors to commission medical reports on whiplash and other soft tissue injuries from medical experts who are not genuinely independent.

"Solicitors must be banned from generating more work by offering inducements, such as cash or tablet computers, to encourage people to make a claim."

The report shows the Transport Committee strongly endorses the government's intention to require courts to strike out "dishonest" insurance claims. These can include claims where there is a significant amount of exaggeration to the truth. However, it has cautioned against hasty legislation due to the complex legal implications.

It has also called for data sharing about potentially fraudulent claims between insurers and claimant solicitors to be made compulsory rather than voluntary (as currently proposed).

It has further urged the government to oversee funding arrangements for the police Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department, to make sure that this unit, currently funded directly by the insurance industry, has a long-term future. 

The Transport Committee says it welcomes government proposals for independent medical assessments but argues that more work is required on implementation. It has also called on the government to press the Solicitors Regulation Authority to stop some solicitors from playing the system to maximise their income by commissioning unnecessary psychological evaluations.

Picture: Stuck in Customs

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