Motoring Insight Magazine Online

Transport Committee attacks amateur government which quoted insurers’ figures of ’59,900 dishonest motor insurance claims’ – but there is no evidence behind the number

Published: 9 July 2014

The government describes a whiplash injury as ‘the neck pain which occurs after the soft tissue in the spine has been stretched and strained when the body is thrown in a sudden, forceful jerk.’

For genuine cases, physiotherapists can prove vital to improving the quality of life of a whiplash victim. But there is still no generally accepted objective test for a whiplash injury. There are no physical manifestations of the injury and whiplash cannot be diagnosed using a CT or MRI scan. The number of whiplash claims from road traffic accidents peaked in 2010-11 at over 560,000, around 70 per cent of all claims arising from such accidents. Since then, the number of claims has diminished.

However, claims for back or neck injuries have increased in this time. The government told the Transport Committee that in 2012-13 87 per cent of road traffic personal injury claims related to the neck area. 

This is not something to be taken lightly since neck-related injuries can cause significant long-term pain and can be difficult to treat. Those individuals who can afford the services of a chiropractor should think carefully and seek help from physiotherapists instead. 

Chiropractors are unregulated and often use controversial methods to achieve something for their clients. In some cases, forceful manipulation of neck muscles can occasionally lead to brain strokes in the days following treatment. It is vital therefore that if one thinks they have neck pains resulting from a road incident, they contact their insurer for advice on medical help from its own book of verified doctors - if the individual intends to make a claim. 

In May 2014, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) announced that there had been 59,900 “dishonest” motor insurance claims in 2013, with a value of £811 million, up by one third from 2012. These figures were quoted by the Government in an announcement on June 7, 2014, of new measures to combat motor insurance fraud. But the Transport Committee rightfully questions these figures which could simply have been made up.

In its recent report, it says: "It is not clear from published material how the ABI has arrived at these figures or what counts as “dishonest”. Nor is there any evidence that these figures have arisen from the work to develop accurate baseline data which the government told us it would begin.

"We reiterate our earlier recommendation that the government should act to ensure that there exists better data about fraudulent or exaggerated personal injury claims, so that there is a stronger evidence base for policy decisions. Since the government has cited the ABI’s figures for dishonest claims in 2013 it should explain how the figures have been arrived at and how dishonest claims have been defined."

Picture: Steve Harris

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