We are the voice of insurance and long-term savings | Contact us

Summary of Transport Select Committee whiplash report

Key findings of the Committee report

  • Better data needed on the number of exaggerated and fraudulent whiplash claims
  • Reform of the medico-legal process including: accreditation, use of medical reports and making the reports available to all parties
  • Reducing the current three year limitation period
  • Keeping the small claims track limit at £1,000
  • Reviewing the law on exaggerated claims
  • Improving data sharing between insurers and claimant lawyers

Key recommendations

Number of whiplash claims/ Prevalence of fraudulent or exaggerated claims

The Committee report expressed concern about the data currently available on the number of exaggerated and fraudulent claims that insurers face and recommended:

  • The Government should analyse pre-2008 statistics on claims arising from road traffic accidents in order to show how the number of whiplash claims has changed since the turn of the century.
  • The Government should give its view on how to improve the collection of data about road accidents, particularly in relation to how they could improve the detection of fraudulent personal injury claims as well as help highways authorities target spending on improving road safety.
  • The Government should press the ABI to provide better data about fraudulent or exaggerated personal injury claims, so that there is a stronger evidence base for policy decisions.

Medical reports

The Committee report agreed that there are problems with the current medico-legal reporting process and made the following recommendations for reform:

  • An accreditation scheme for medical practitioners (who need not all be doctors) who provide medical reports in relation to whiplash claims.
  • Reports should be available equally to all parties.
  • Ensure practitioners instructed to prepare such reports are provided with information about the accident and the claimant’s medical records.

The Committee also recommended that the Government consult on ways of requiring whiplash claimants to provide more information in support of their claim, such as proof that they saw a medical practitioner shortly after the accident or evidence of the impact of the injury on everyday life. The Committee also said there should be a presumption against accepting claims where such information is not provided.

Limitation period

The Committee asked the Government for an explanation of the rationale for the three-year limitation period and for the Government to bring forward recommendations for reducing it.

Small Claims Track (SCT)

The Committee report found that there are good arguments for and against switching whiplash claims of between £1,000 and £5,000 to the small claims track, but on balance they did not support this proposal at the present time.

Report conclusions

  • Access to justice is likely to be impaired, particularly for people who do not feel confident to represent themselves in what will seem to some to be a complex and intimidating process.
  • Insurers would use legal professionals to contest claims, which will add to this problem.
  • It would be financially difficult for many solicitors to assist litigants fighting personal injury claims using the small claims procedure, given the limited fees available.
  • There are concerns that some claims management firms might find a way to enter the process, fuelling another boom in their activities.
  • There are concerns that use of the small claims track could prove counterproductive in efforts to discourage fraudulent and exaggerated claims.

The Committee report recommended that the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) consider ways in which use of the small claims track could be combined with the routine submission of expert evidence, such as a medical report, to help restrict opportunities for fraud and exaggeration. The Committee said the MoJ should consider further ways in which litigants in person could be assisted to use the small claims process, particularly in order to counter the inequality of arms likely to arise in personal injury claims

Acceptability of fraud and exaggeration

The Committee report recommended the MoJ give its view on the issues involved in limiting the right to compensation where it can be shown that a claim is grossly exaggerated.

Data sharing

The Committee report expressed concern over the progress made on data sharing between the insurance industry and claimant lawyers. The Committee recommended that the Government encourage both parties to establish collaborative arrangements aimed at identifying and deterring potentially fraudulent claims.

Government approach

The Committee report was critical of the Government’s approach to working with the industry to reduce motor insurance premiums. The Committee report recommended: 

  • Government explain how it will monitor whether or not motor insurers honour their commitment to ensure that any cost reductions resulting from proposed legal reforms are passed through to consumers in the form of lower premiums.
  • Government take a more strategic approach to tackling the cost of motor insurance premiums, bringing together action by the MoJ, Department for Health and DfT, as well as any future implementation of Competition Commission recommendations, under a single ministerial lead.

Read the full whiplash report on the Committee's website.

Last updated 01/07/2016