Claimant representatives are urging MPs and peers to push back on the “derisory and offensive” new tariff for whiplash injuries when put for approval in Parliament this week.
The draft whiplash injury regulations are to be debated in the House of Lords today and House of Commons on Wednesday and represent the last – if unlikely – chance to derail the reforms.
Under the tariff, a whiplash injury lasting up to three months will be worth £240, some 90% lower than the current figure, rising to £4,215 for an injury lasting 18 to 24 months.
“The proposed tariffs for whiplash injuries are derisory and offensive and will almost certainly leave people under-compensated,” said Sam Elsby, president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers.
He said the three-month tariff as nowhere near the appropriate level of compensation. “Imagine if you are the parent of a small child that you can’t pick up to comfort, or an athlete who can’t compete, or a retiree who is unable to go out and about for those three months.
“Injured people are going to be taken aback when they have a crash and find out that their injury and the months of pain, discomfort, and stress are worth less than the cost of a new sofa. Only the insurance industry will benefit from this new tariff.”
Qamar Anwar, managing director of First4Lawyers, said the reforms showed “a lack of compassion and common sense”.
He went on: “We can only hope now that peers and MPs alike will see the derisory tariffs that have been proposed for what they truly are, an insult to the injured and vulnerable.
“Once again the winners in this situation will be the insurers who save money at the expense of the pain and suffering of those injured through no fault of their own.”
Meanwhile, the Association of Consumer Support Organisations argued that “Covid has done the government’s job for it before the launch of whiplash reforms”.
The latest figures from the government’s Compensation Recovery Unit show how motor accident claims fell from just under 157,000 in the first quarter of 2020 to just over 107,000 in the same period this year.
Executive director Matthew Maxwell Scott said: “The fall this year continues a long-term downwards trend in motor claims. This started well before the pandemic, which has accelerated the decline…
“In reality, Covid has finished the government’s job for it. Motor claims dropped by nearly 25% between 2019 and 2020 and we see no reason why overall claims will not continue to decline as driving continues to change and evolve in future.”
He noted that motor insurance premiums have fallen by 14% in the last 12 months, the biggest annual fall since 2014, mainly due to the impact of the pandemic on claims frequency.
“The promised £35 of savings per premium expected as a result of the whiplash reforms needs to come on top of this if consumer confidence in the insurance industry is not to take another knock.”