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ABI reveals whiplash epidemic

Research published today, 14 November, by the ABI (Association of British Insurers) exposes for the first time the scale and the cost of the UK's whiplash epidemic. Every day, nearly 1,200 people claim for whiplash following a motor collision. This figure has risen by a quarter in the last five years, and is six times the number of workplace injury claims made each year. To stem the tide, the ABI has joined forces with motoring and road safety groups to set out a programme for action.

The ABI report, ‘Tackling Whiplash: Prevention, Care, Compensation', highlights that:

· Over 430,000 people claimed for whiplash in 2007, up by a quarter in the last five years. These claims cost nearly £2 billion a year in compensation.

· Treating whiplash injuries now costs the NHS approximately £8 million a year in consultation fees.

· The UK is the whiplash capital of Europe: 75% of motor personal injury claims are for whiplash, compared to an average of 40% throughout the rest of Europe.

· Many drivers and passengers are at risk: 75% of drivers are unaware how head restraints should be correctly positioned.

Reasons for the rise in whiplash include: motorists tailgating the car in front, and incorrectly adjusted head restraints. In many cases recovery is inhibited by the slow legal process, leading to delays in rehabilitation.

Stephen Haddrill, the ABI's Director General, said:

"Whiplash imposes unacceptable costs to individuals, businesses and the state. Insurers want to reduce whiplash, provide fast care and compensation and tackle fraudulent claims. But we cannot do this alone. We call on the Government, road safety groups, the medical and legal professions and other stakeholders to work with us on a campaign to reduce this problem."

Proposals for reducing whiplash and its effects include:

  • The Government's proposed new framework for learner drivers should emphasise the importance of safe following distances.
  • Vehicle retailers should demonstrate, when selling a vehicle, how to correctly adjust the head restraint.
  • The Government should develop and implement clear guidance on how to effectively diagnose and treat whiplash.

Last updated 01/07/2016