Association of Personal Injury Lawyers
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Blog: Whiplash reforms and the small claims limit

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Whiplash reforms and the small claims limit
Deborah Evans | 19 Feb 2016

We all sit in that uncomfortable middle ground - the waiting room between the autumn statement and the consultation - desiring clarity but getting little of comfort. So what to do in the interim? Well, intensive lobbying for one thing. So far APIL has put its concerns directly to Lord Faulkes, MPs, peers, the shadow minister, and has spoken to in excess of 70 members who are contacting their local MPs directly. Seeds are sown now so that parliamentarians enter the debate fully informed and are not on a learning curve. And debate there will be - unlike many reforms, where away from the noise of the house a swipe of a pen makes a rule change with sweeping impact - the removal of the right to general damages requires primary legislation, and by its very nature debate in both houses. So, good briefing is key. Our briefing pack is fully formed and on our website here if you would like to see the arguments.

The gap also creates thinking time for strategic planning - how best to put across our arguments to get the utmost influence. Back in 2012 we made pro-active suggestions as to how to defeat fraud without simultaneously defeating genuine claims. The APIL Whiplash Report made numerous suggestions – so many of which have now been implemented. So what was on that list? The exchange of information between claims portal and the Insurance Fraud Bureaux; all claims subject to a written statement of truth; a ban on cash incentives; medical experts offered that are credible to both sides; development of guidance to medics on how to assess whiplash claims; photo ID of the claimant for the medical expert; claimant solicitor to organise medical records if relevant. All of these are achieved or in progress.

But what’s left on that list? Still unaddressed is the banning of pre-med offers in portal claims – a simple step to ensure that everyone that receives compensation is seen by a doctor who can verify that they have actually been injured. The banning of spam or cold calling / texting appears to be falling on deaf ears. The ban on the sale of claimant’s details by insurers is in place, but individual employees still cross the line and flout the law.

Certainly, the banning of pre-med offers still makes sense. Let’s take away the environment of easy money completely. The ABI has guidelines designed to discourage pre-med offers – some insurers follow them, some don’t – that’s the trouble with guidelines. Let’s make a medical mandatory before an offer is made. It’s a nebulous lump of claims that aren’t tested for fraud. It’s got to stop.

The Government attempts to ban cold calling and spam texting seem to flounder, and yet the practice is widely hated by the man on the street. Can we not stop this and restore some respect to the claims industry?

If we are serious about targeting fraud, let’s get on the case of the fraudster, and off the back of the genuine claimant.

Past blog entries

Effects of a change in the discount rate: what happens when a review is expected? , 16 Dec 2020
Three per cent drop in premiums does not reflect massive insurer savings, 09 Nov 2020
What help is out there for families when someone is injured?, 02 Nov 2020
Blindly heading into the unknown for injured people?, 09 Dec 2019
Lessons in looking after one another , 18 Nov 2019
‘Fake claims’ or ‘fake news’?, 06 Nov 2019
The tide of public opinion is turning against insurers, 15 Oct 2019
Time for a joined-up strategy to prevent medical negligence, 23 Sep 2019

About this blog

Deborah Evans

I'm Deborah Evans, APIL's Chief Executive Officer. I shall be using this blog to keep you informed about campaigning and political work carried out by APIL.